Ludwick and the Cardinals continue their series against the Phillies on Saturday, as the potential playoff teams both find themselves with little room for error in the standings.
Philadelphia (59-50) came into the series on Friday having won five straight, during which it averaged 8.0 runs per game and batted .331 with 11 homers, five doubles and a triple. The Phillies, however, were held to just five hits in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Cardinals (62-50).
Ludwick had four hits for St. Louis—including two solo home runs—and Jason Isringhausen recorded his first save since May 5 after losing the closer job earlier this season. The Cardinals ended their four-game home skid in the opener of a six-game homestand.
Ludwick is batting .579 (11-for-19) with six RBIs in the last five games. He’s hitting .303 with 25 homers and 76 RBIs this season after hitting .267 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs last year.
“I think I had a lot of confidence coming into this year,” he told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “I think that was the main issue for me - proving to myself that I can play at this level.”
Ludwick isn’t the only Cardinal that’s hitting well with Joe Mather, who was called up from the minors July 22 to replace the injured Chris Duncan, batting .391 (9-for-23) with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs in the last five games. St. Louis is averaging 6.9 runs in its last eight games with eight home runs and 14 doubles during that stretch.
The Cardinals have won four of their last five overall and remained tied with the Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL wild card standings. Milwaukee and St. Louis are four games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs, who lost Friday to Pittsburgh.
The Phillies, meanwhile, maintained a one-game lead in the East over the New York Mets, who lost to Houston on Friday. St. Louis native Ryan Howard went 0-for-3 on Friday after going 11-for-23 (.478) in his first six games against the Cardinals this year.
Philadelphia tries to bounce back Saturday when it hands the ball to Joe Blanton (0-0, 7.88 ERA) in his third start for the Phillies after being acquired from Oakland in a four-player deal on July 17. Last Sunday, he allowed two runs and three hits over two innings against Atlanta before a two-hour rain delay cut his start short in the eventual 12-10 win.
Blanton has never faced the Cardinals.
Braden Looper (10-8, 4.38) counters for St. Louis on Saturday. He allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings Monday in a 12-3 win over the Braves to end his personal three-game losing streak.
“I definitely didn’t have as good of stuff as I’ve had in a while,” he said. “My offspeed was not very good. But I had really good fastball command.”
Looper, a converted reliever, made his first and only career start against the Phillies on July 10. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 4-1 loss.
The Cardinals have won three straight meetings at home over the Phillies after losing eight of the previous 10.