Reyes tries again for his first win of 2007, when he starts for the Cardinals on Sunday in the finale their three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
St. Louis pitchers allowed at least five runs nine times in a 12-game stretch from late April into early this month, culminating with 13-0 defeat to Houston on May 5. The staff has rebounded since then, though, yielding three runs or fewer in five of the last six games and going 4-2 in that span.
On Saturday, Braden Looper threw seven three-hit innings as the Cardinals won 5-0 for their first shutout victory of the season.
“He’s been the most clutch (pitcher) we have,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said of Looper, whose last four wins have come after Cardinals losses.
The victory ended a four-game road losing streak for St. Louis (15-19), which got shut out 7-0 in Friday night’s series opener. On Saturday, the Cardinals scored all of their runs in the third inning, although four of them were unearned after Padres left fielder Terrmel Sledge misplayed Albert Pujols’ fly ball.
“Hey, man, I wish I could take it back,” Sledge said. “It took us out of the game. No one feels worse than I do.”
While Looper has emerged as a stopper, Reyes (0-5, 5.03 ERA) merely wants to stop the longest current losing streak by a pitcher in the majors. Since defeating Pittsburgh last Sept. 3, the right-hander is 0-7 with a 6.14 ERA in 10 regular-season starts.
Reyes will look to build on the only outing of this season in which he didn’t get charged with a loss. On Monday against Colorado, he allowed a season-low two runs and three hits in six innings while striking out five, but did not factor in the decision of the Cardinals’ 3-2 defeat.
“Every time I go out there, I get better and better,” Reyes told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “It seems like everything I’m working on with (pitching coach Dave Duncan) is paying off. My job is to give a quality start every time I’m out there. I’m not really worried about the score.”
The Cardinals did win 4-2 when Reyes faced the Padres last Sept. 27 at Busch Stadium, although he did not earn the decision. Reyes allowed one run, five hits and four walks while striking out six in six innings of that start, the only time he’s pitched against San Diego.
The Padres (19-18) will turn to right-hander Justin Germano (0-0, 1.50) as they look to win a third straight regular-season series against St. Louis, which has eliminated them in an NL division series in each of the past two postseasons. Since 2005, San Diego is 9-6 in the regular season versus the Cardinals, but just 1-6 in postseason play.
Germano, who went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Portland, is making his second start filling in for the injured Clay Hensley. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up a run and three hits in six innings Tuesday at Atlanta, but did not record a decision in San Diego’s 3-2 defeat.
“I’m just going after guys… getting ahead and throwing strikes,” Germano told the Padres’ official Web site. “You just have to keep the same game plan.”
San Diego, which is trying to avoid its fifth loss in six games, would fall to the .500 mark for the first time since it was 13-13 on April 30 with a defeat Sunday.