The Cardinals look for another big night at the plate when they continue their road series with the Pirates on Saturday night.
After scoring more than two runs just once in its previous seven contests, St. Louis (52-42) beat Pittsburgh 6-0 in Friday’s series opener to avoid a third consecutive loss.
Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick each homered and combined for four RBIs for the Cardinals, who scored all their runs with two outs. St. Louis had been outscored 32-13 while losing five of seven games heading into this series.
“We really haven’t been swinging very well, but as long as you give yourself a chance, all of a sudden that can turn,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
The Cardinals have scored 44.3 percent of their runs this season with two outs - the second-highest such percentage in the majors behind Pittsburgh (45.0).
Despite the team’s recent overall struggles at the plate, Ankiel is batting .391 (9-for-23) with three homers and seven RBIs in his last six contests. Ludwick, meanwhile, has three hits - all home runs - in his last five games.
“Baseball is a long year, and you’re going to go through stretches where you’re getting two-out knocks and you’re going to go through stretches where you’re not,” Ankiel said of the Cardinals, who moved back into second place in the NL Central after Milwaukee lost to Cincinnati on Friday.
The Cardinals will face Pittsburgh rookie Yoslan Herrera, who makes his major league debut Saturday. The Cuban signed a $1.92 million, three-year contract with the Pirates before the 2007 season.
The 27-year-old right-hander was called up from Double-A Altoona to replace Phil Dumatrait. Dumatrait was originally scheduled to start Saturday, but was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
Herrera went 5-8 with a 3.11 ERA at Altoona, where he allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. He also won his only game with Triple-A Indianapolis, giving up two runs in seven innings.
Wellemeyer, who had his turn in the rotation skipped twice last month due to elbow soreness, allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings of a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. He has not gone past the fifth inning in any of his last four starts.
“The elbow’s fine. Location isn’t,” said Wellemeyer, 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA in his last four appearances. “I’ll get back in there. I know what I need to do.”
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts versus the Pirates this season.
All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth went 1-for-5 and is batting .357 (10-for-28) in his last six games. McLouth is 2-for-11 with a homer versus Wellemeyer in his career.