The St. Louis Cardinals hope to make up ground in the NL Central as they begin a seven-game homestand against division opponents. To do that, they’ll have to play a lot better with Anthony Reyes on the mound.
The Cardinals look to get back on track on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (64-66) is third in the NL Central, three games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs and one-half game behind Milwaukee. The Cardinals are 31-24 against division opponents - the best mark in the NL Central - but didn’t do much to boost that number by losing two of three games to Houston.
St. Louis took the opener 7-0, but was outscored 9-1 in the final two contests, including a 2-1 defeat in Thursday’s finale. The Cardinals believe they can rebound at home, though, where they are 34-29 with wins in 12 of their last 16 games.
After this series, St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh in a four-game set.
“We’ve been playing good at home so we’ve got to continue that,” second baseman Aaron Miles told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “All the games are ahead of us, we control our own destiny. We’re in a good spot, we need to go home and continue to do what we’ve been doing there.”
The Cardinals have won six of the nine meetings with Cincinnati (62-72), including two of three from June 29-July 1. They have struggled with Reyes on the mound, however, losing 15 of his 18 starts and giving him an average of just 2.98 runs of support.
St. Louis has been held to three or fewer runs in all but three of his outings and hope for a better showing when he takes the mound.
The right-hander allowed four runs - all unearned - and three hits over five innings on Aug. 23, but fell 11-3 to Florida. Reyes didn’t allow an earned run for the first time this season, but he did throw 106 pitches and manager Tony La Russa didn’t let him off the hook.
“He wasn’t blame-free,” said La Russa, who has 1,041 wins with the Cardinals, tied with Red Schoendienst for the club record. “He threw a lot of pitches for the amount of time he was out there.”
Reyes (2-13, 5.33 ERA) is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in three career games versus the Reds, holding them to a .182 batting average. He’ll face a Cincinnati squad that has won eight of its last 10 games, averaging 6.5 runs while batting .330.
The Reds won their last two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates to split the four-game set, capped by a 5-4 victory on Thursday. Ken Griffey Jr. went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI, and Brandon Phillips also had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, batting .467 (21-for-45) during that stretch.
The Reds’ second baseman has seven consecutive multi-hit games, the most by a Reds player since Chris Stynes had eight in 2000. Phillips also made a key defensive play as he chased down a single in short right field and threw out a runner at home in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win.
Tom Shearn (1-0, 3.86) makes his second major league start for Cincinnati. The 30-year-old right-hander was living in the groundskeeper’s camper at Triple-A Louisville to save money before getting called up to make his debut on Sunday.
After spending 11 seasons in the minors, Shearn held Florida to three runs and four hits over seven innings in a 9-3 win.
“It was tough, up until this day,” Shearn said, moments after a clubhouse attendant handed him a game ball as a keepsake. “Makes it all worth it.”
Shearn will be making his first road start.