Los Angeles (56-57) at St. Louis (64-52)

Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 2:15 pm EDT Thu Aug 7, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Ryan Ludwick is helping the St. Louis Cardinals build momentum heading into a key weekend series with their biggest rival.

With one of the major’s hottest hitters in the lineup and ace Kyle Lohse on the mound, the Cardinals try to sweep their three-game set from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

After hitting a game-winning home run in a 6-4, 11-inning victory in Tuesday’s series opener, Ludwick tied a franchise record Wednesday by becoming the fifth St. Louis player to homer in five consecutive contests in the Cardinals’ 9-6 victory over Los Angeles.

Ludwick, the reigning NL player of the week, is batting .486 (18-for-37) with six homers—in five straight contests—and 12 RBIs during an nine-game hitting streak for the Cardinals (64-52), who are 6-3 during that span.

“The best part about it is we’re winning,” said Ludwick.

The Cardinals, who opened this six-game homestand by losing two of three to Philadelphia, begin a 10-game road trip Friday against NL Central-leading Chicago. St. Louis is 5 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the division.

Albert Pujols has homered in consecutive games after hitting a grand slam and going 4-for-4 on Wednesday for St. Louis, which is one-half game behind wild-card leader Milwaukee.

While the Cardinals’ offense hopes to provide more than enough run support again Thursday, they could be in good shape with Lohse on the mound.

Lohse (13-3, 3.73 ERA), looking to match a career high for wins, bounced back from his first loss since May 8 by allowing three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 win over Philadelphia on Friday.

“It was a weird one,” said Lohse, who failed to get out of the sixth inning for the eighth time in 24 starts. “I felt good early, maybe wore myself out.”

The right-hander, who went 14-11 for Minnesota in 2003, is 1-1 with 5.40 ERA against the Dodgers and scattered six hits in six innings of a 4-0 victory at Los Angeles on May 24.

The Cardinals likely will be in for a challenge against Los Angeles rookie Clayton Kershaw (1-3, 4.02), who has not allowed a run in his last 12 innings over two games.

After giving up four hits in six innings to record his first career victory in a 2-0 win over Washington on July 27, Kershaw posted the same line and didn’t factor in the decision of a 2-1 loss to Arizona on Friday.

“He’s got great stuff. I mean, you can see why they’re pretty excited about him,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of the 20-year-old Kershaw.

In his major league debut, the left-hander allowed two runs and struck out seven in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning win over St. Louis on May 25.

Manny Ramirez continued to swing the bat well since being traded to Los Angeles form Boston last Thursday. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs on Wednesday and is 12-for-20 with three home runs and seven RBIs in five games with the Dodgers.

“Manny makes a difference just being on the team,” Dodgers center fielder Andruw Jones said.

Los Angeles has lost four of six and is 2 1/2 games back of Arizona in the NL West.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Kershaw LAD vs. K. Lohse Mil
5-5 Record 15-6
4.26 ERA 3.78
100 K 119
52 BB 49
1.50 WHIP 1.30


Thursday, Aug 7