The last thing the slumping San Diego Padres need right now is a visit from the best team in baseball.
The Padres will look to shake off their recent slide and keep pace in the NL wild-card race when they take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series.
San Diego has lost five of six to fall 2 1/2 games behind wild-card co-leaders Chicago and San Francisco.
“We’re starting to press a little bit,” Ryan Klesko said after the Padres lost 5-2 to Colorado on Sunday. “We’ve just got to relax and go out and have fun, because if we go out there tight, it’s going to be tough.”
San Diego dropped two of three to Colorado, a team which is 18 games below .500 and started six rookies on Sunday.
The Padres, who have been outscored 33-11 over their last five games, missed yet another opportunity to gain ground in the NL West on first-place Los Angeles. The Dodgers, who were swept by St. Louis over the weekend, remain six games ahead of the Padres.
“We’ve got to look to tomorrow,” said right-hander Brian Lawrence, who lost Sunday for the fifth time in his last seven decisions. “We’ve got a good team coming in, and we’ve got to try to find it. They’re beatable, so we’ve got to go out there and pick it up.”
St. Louis, which leads the majors with 92 wins, swept San Diego in a three-games series last week, outscoring the Padres 20-7.
Reggie Sanders’ pinch-hit RBI single in the 11th inning on Sunday lifted the Cardinals to a 6-5 victory over Los Angeles, their season-high ninth win in a row.
However, not all the news is good for St. Louis. Right fielder Larry Walker sprained his right knee when he slipped fielding a ball Sunday, but the injury is not believed to be serious.
“I’m assuming he’s going to be OK,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Nobody told me otherwise.”
Walker is batting .305 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in 62 games.