It’s been nearly two years since the St. Louis Cardinals won seven straight games, so they probably won’t mind a few more extra innings if that’s what it takes to equal that streak.
After playing yet another extra-inning contest, the Cardinals look to continue their best run of the season when they face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Scott Rolen’s RBI single with two outs in the 10th inning lifted the Cardinals (51-39) over the Dodgers 2-1 on Saturday, the fourth extra-inning victory during their six-game winning streak.
St. Louis, leading the NL Central, has matched its longest win streak in a season since April 21-27 of last year. The last time the Cardinals took seven straight was from Aug. 27-Sept. 5, 2004, when they won nine in a row.
St. Louis has had to play past the ninth in four of its last five wins. The Cardinals had three straight extra-inning victories, totaling 36 innings, before Chris Carpenter’s two-hitter in a 5-0 victory Friday.
“There’s a very fine line,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “That’s why when you have something going we always encourage our club, you don’t sit around patting yourself on the back because you’ll lose that edge.”
The Dodgers (46-45) have lost four of five, but send Brad Penny (10-2, 2.91 ERA) to the mound Sunday to try to win his fourth straight start. The right-hander started for the NL in Tuesday’s All-Star game and struck out the first three batters he faced. The last pitcher to start an All-Star game with three straight strikeouts was Boston’s Pedro Martinez at Fenway Park in 1999.
Penny gave up two runs and struck out six in seven innings of a 5-4 win over Arizona on July 5. His last appearance before the All-Star break was in relief, retiring one batter in a 3-1 win over San Francisco on Sunday.
Penny is 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA in eight starts against St. Louis.
J.D. Drew had three hits and an RBI on Saturday for the Dodgers, who have been held to three runs in the first three games of the four-game series. Drew had been hitless in his previous 12 at-bats.
Los Angeles first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who carried a 22-game hitting streak into Friday, is 0-for-7 the last two games. He is hitless in consecutive contests for the first time since May 3-4, and hasn’t gone three straight games without a hit all season.
“The runs are few and far between and I can’t wait to get through this little storm,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “Some of the guys just haven’t been clicking since the All-Star break but it will happen.”
Albert Pujols’ second homer in three games tied it in the sixth Saturday, and he also doubled in the first. Pujols is batting .415 (10-for-24) with three home runs and six RBIs in his last five games.
The Cardinals have homered in a season-best 12 straight contests, two more than their longest streak last season. They’ve hit 21 in that span.
Anthony Reyes (1-3, 3.86 ERA) started the second game of St. Louis’ win streak July 8, allowing four runs in five innings, but didn’t factor in the decision in the Cards’ 7-6 victory. The right-hander has lost his last three decisions and has pitched only five innings in each of his previous three starts.
Reyes is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts against Los Angeles.