The St. Louis Cardinals have made a habit of losing the first game of a series this season only to win the final two.
Doing the same against the Philadelphia Phillies may be a bit more challenging.
The Cardinals will try to avoid losing their fifth straight series to the Phillies on Sunday when they wrap up their three-game set at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (41-29) came into the weekend having lost nine of its last 12 and four consecutive series to Philadelphia, and after Friday night it didn’t look like anything had changed.
The Phillies (41-29) hit four home runs and routed the Cardinals 20-2, scoring that many runs for the second time this season. But on Saturday, St. Louis got eight solid innings from Kyle Lohse, and he earned his eighth win as the Cardinals won 3-2.
With a victory on Sunday, St. Louis can win its 15th series of the season - and its eighth when it has dropped the first game of a series.
“It’s easy to look at the negative things, like (Friday),” said second baseman Adam Kennedy, who hit a two-run homer on Saturday. “But we’ve been really great about starting over each day. You can tell, it’s pretty much the same every day, which is a big part of it.”
Albert Pujols has missed the Cardinals’ last four games with a strained calf, and is expected to miss at least two weeks. But Ryan Ludwick, who has 16 homers and a team-high 52 RBIs, has picked up the slack.
He’s hitting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers and seven RBIs since June 10, the day Pujols was hurt.
Not only is St. Louis without Pujols - a six-time All-Star - it’s also without its best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, who’s on the DL with a sprained finger.
Mitchell Boggs (1-0, 3.86 ERA) originally came up to replace the injured Todd Wellemeyer - who has since returned to the rotation - but with Wainwright’s return date unknown, it appears Boggs could stick for a while.
He allowed two runs over five innings on Tuesday in his first major league start, and got the decision in the Cardinals’ 7-2 win in Cincinnati.
“You’ve got to give Boggs a lot of credit,” manager Tony La Russa told the team’s official Web site. “He had a lot of good things working for him heading into this game, and he added to it.”
The Phillies have scored more runs than all but two teams in the majors, but aside from the 20-run outburst on Friday, they are only hitting .200 in their last five games.
Pat Burrell hasn’t had any issues with his bat, however. Burrell has homered in both games in St. Louis, and he’s hit four in his last seven games.
Brett Myers (3-8, 5.34) has struggled all season, and after picking up losses in his last two starts, he’s now dropped six of his last seven decisions.
The latest came on Tuesday in Florida, where Myers gave up five runs on seven hits in 5 1-3 innings - walking four - in a 5-4 Marlins win.
“I didn’t have my best stuff, because I couldn’t get my breaking ball over,” Myers told the Phillies’ official Web site. “I pretty much stunk tonight.”
Myers, who was Philadelphia’s closer last season, didn’t fare well in his last trip to Busch Stadium. Appearing in back-to-back games in September, he blew a save and was saddled with a loss the next day.