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.