Marquis looks to win his third straight start and the Cardinals (48-39) try for their fourth win in a row when they open a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (46-42) on Thursday.
Despite being tied with All-Star Tom Glavine of the New York Mets for the NL lead in wins, Marquis (11-6, 5.55 ERA) was not selected to play in the midsummer classic. Along with his high ERA, he leads NL pitchers with 20 homers allowed.
After giving up 20 runs and 23 hits—including seven homers—over 11 innings in two losses to close out June, Marquis has pitched better in July. In wins over Kansas City and Houston, the right-hander has given up six runs and 15 hits, and only one homer, in 14 2-3 innings.
“I felt confident in all my pitches today,” Marquis said after tossing 7 2-3 innings in the Cardinals’ 8-2 win over the Astros on Friday. “I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes, which made it a little bit easier.
“I just went after hitters. This last bullpen (session), I really concentrated on trying to get back to my old ways and trying to stick with that.”
Marquis is 6-1 in his last seven home starts despite a 4.15 ERA. He’s 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five career appearances, including four starts, against Los Angeles.
Marquis’ victory over Houston started St. Louis’ first three-game winning streak since a four-game run from June 15-18. Following that win streak, the Cardinals dropped eight in a row, all against AL Central opponents, and 13 of 16 before taking three in a row from the Astros.
The Cardinals are 6-1 in their last seven home games against the Dodgers, and have won 12 of the last 17 meetings overall.
All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols went 5-for-11 with a triple, homer, three RBIs and three runs in two games before the break. He started in the NL’s 3-2 loss Tuesday night and went 0-for-3 with a long fly out to center field in the sixth inning.
Pujols, the NL leader with 29 homers, has eight in 30 games against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles first baseman Nomar Garciaparra begins the second half tied with Pittsburgh’s Freddy Sanchez for the league lead with a .358 batting average. Garciaparra’s resurgence has helped the Dodgers bat an NL-best .284 this season after finishing 15th with a .253 average last year.
Garciaparra won the online fan vote for the final NL roster spot, but did not play Tuesday night. He’s batting .373 (31-for-83) during a 21-game hitting streak.
Rookie Chad Billingsley (0-2, 5.27) will try for the sixth time to record his first career win when he takes the mound for Los Angeles. Billingsley pitched 5 1-3 innings Friday and gave up five runs and six hits, including Barry Bonds’ 720th homer, failing to get a decision in Los Angeles’ 9-7 win over San Francisco.
In three road starts this season, the right-hander has walked 13 and allowed 17 hits in 17 innings, going 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA.
Los Angeles ended the first half with a 3-1 victory over the Giants, its fifth win in seven contests. The Dodgers trail NL West leader San Diego by two games.