After an extended losing streak, St. Louis starting pitcher Jason Marquis has put together three straight dominant outings.
Marquis will try for his fourth straight win and help St. Louis to its second consecutive division title as the Cardinals go for a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Marquis lost seven straight starts from July 21-Aug. 23, dropping his record to 9-13 while his ERA rose from 3.88 to 4.67. However, the right-hander has bounced back with a vengeance, winning each of his last three outings, while allowing two earned runs in 26 innings.
Marquis had tossed back-to-back complete games before Friday’s 3-2 victory over the New York Mets in which he allowed one earned run and eight hits over eight strong innings. He struck out four and walked one.
“My confidence is a little more than where it was, obviously, about two or three weeks ago,” Marquis said. “But I’m still the same pitcher, I just made a few adjustments in my game, and that’s getting ahead and expanding the plate from the middle on out.”
The Cardinals have won the first two games of the set despite being outhit 24-13.
St. Louis can clinch Wednesday with a win coupled with a loss by Houston, which is 16 games out.
“We worked hard to get here,” manager Tony La Russa said. “The club has been so relentless, as strong-minded as you can be.”
On Tuesday, Chris Carpenter blew a four-run lead in his worst outing since his 13-game winning streak began in mid-June, but the Cardinals rallied on David Eckstein’s ninth-inning RBI single to beat the Pirates 5-4.
Ryan Doumit singled, homered and doubled in his first three at-bats for the Pirates, who have lost 15 of 18.