A recent offensive surge has helped the St. Louis Cardinals to an impressive home winning streak.
The hot-hitting Cardinals will try to win seven straight at Busch Stadium for the first time in nearly three years when they continue their three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
St. Louis (10-4) dropped its first home game of the year, but has since reeled off six consecutive victories there, including Tuesday’s 6-1 series-opening win over the Brewers. The club has its best home stretch since winning seven in a row from May 11-28, 2005.
That home mark has helped the Cardinals tie Arizona for the best record in the majors, but they wouldn’t be in this position without a strong offense.
St. Louis, tied for second in the NL with a .273 batting average, pounded out 12 hits in Tuesday’s win. Skip Schumaker went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Adam Kennedy had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have at least 12 hits in four of their last six games.
“Up and down the lineup, everybody is going to need to a little each night,” Kennedy said. “We can’t leave it all up to the big boys.”
While the Cardinals appear to have found their offensive stride, the Brewers (8-5) don’t seem to have a solution for their recent hitting woes after totaling three hits on Tuesday.
The Brewers were without Gabe Kapler, who was a late scratch with a bruised right shoulder. Kapler is hitting .423 with four homers and 11 RBIs after sitting out last season.
Meanwhile, Ryan Braun, who got the day off, is currently mired in a 3-for-25 slump and is batting just .226 on the season. The second-year third baseman batted .324 with 34 homers and 97 RBIs in 113 games last season en route to earning NL rookie of the year honors.
First baseman Prince Fielder had 50 homers last season, but remains without one in 2008. He was walked four times on Tuesday.
“They’re struggling,” Brewers manager Ned Yost told the team’s official Web site. “But this is a very good offensive team, and they’re working hard to get out of it. Prince had a big night tonight in terms of staying patient and having good at-bats. I was really proud of him.”
While the Brewers wait for their bats to awaken, they’ll send Carlos Villanueva (1-1 4.76 ERA) to the mound.
He yielded four runs and seven hits in six innings of Thursday’s 4-1 home loss to Cincinnati, but has fared better against St. Louis.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in eight career appearances - three starts - versus the Cardinals, going 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA while starting one of four games in St. Louis.
Villanueva will try to contain Albert Pujols, who has hit .400 (6-for-15) with two homers and five RBIs against him. Pujols has also hit .351 (142-for-404) with 25 homers and 92 RBIs in 110 meetings with the Brewers.
Adam Wainwright (1-1, 3.60) starts for the Cardinals looking to rebound from his first loss of the season.
The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits, while striking out six in seven innings of a 5-1 loss at San Francisco on Thursday.
Wainwright is 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine games - two starts - against the Brewers. He has faced them three times at home, all in relief.