The last two National League champions begin a four-game series on Monday at Coors Field, with St. Louis hoping to take advantage of Colorado’s dismal start.
After winning a World Series title in 2006, the Cardinals (20-12) struggled last season, finishing 78-84. The Rockies (12-19) appear to be undergoing a similar letdown after making their first World Series appearance in 2007.
Colorado is 3-11 in its last 14 games and is tied for the fewest wins in the majors.
St. Louis, meanwhile, has appeared to rebound from last season. The Cardinals, who have the second-best record in the majors, have won six of eight, including two of three over the weekend against the Chicago Cubs.
St. Louis won Sunday’s series finale 5-3 to increase its NL Central lead to 1 1/2 games.
“There’s a lot of tough teams in this division and I just want us to be one of them,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We’re playing tough and it makes for exciting baseball.”
Albert Pujols, whose two-run double gave the Cardinals the lead in the fourth inning Sunday, has reached base safely in all 32 games this season - one shy of the longest such streak of his career. He went 5-for-10 at the plate when the Cardinals took two of three from Colorado in St. Louis to start the season.
The Rockies avoided a three-game sweep by the Dodgers over the weekend, winning 7-2 on Sunday.
The Rockies, who went 51-31 at home in 2007, improved to just 5-8 this season at Coors Field.
“We need to bring more energy to the park and put a streak together, and not put ourselves too far in the hole,” first baseman Todd Helton told the Rockies’ official Web site.
The Rockies will send Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 5.90 ERA) to the mound on Monday. Jimenez is winless in his last four starts after failing to pitch out of the sixth inning in any of them.
The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings against the Giants on Wednesday, as he did not receive a decision in the 3-2 loss.
St. Louis will counter with Joel Pineiro (2-2, 3.75), who is looking to win his third straight start.
Pineiro has been impressive in his last two outings, allowing just one run and five hits in his last 14 innings of work. On Tuesday against Cincinnati, he pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in a 7-2 Cardinals win.
St. Louis and Colorado split their four meetings at Coors Field last season.
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