The St. Louis Cardinals are proving that their offensive struggles earlier this week were just an aberration.
The Cardinals look to build off of one of the best offensive games in franchise history Saturday when they continue their three-game series against the slumping Atlanta Braves, who try to avoid dropping seven straight games for the first time in two years.
St. Louis (72-58) scored three runs in losing Sunday’s series finale at Cincinnati and plated only one in Tuesday’s series opener to Pittsburgh, but the league’s second-highest scoring offense (637) has quickly gotten back on track.
After beating the Pirates 11-2 on Wednesday, the Cardinals routed the Braves 18-3 in Friday’s series opener to remain 2 1/2 games back of wild card-leading Milwaukee.
The first five hitters were a combined 10-for-12 with seven walks and a sacrifice fly the first four times through the order, and St. Louis finished with 26 hits. It was the Cardinals’ highest scoring game since beating Pittsburgh 19-4 on May 20, 2000, and their most hits since also getting 26 in a 19-16 win over Philadelphia on Sept. 23, 1930.
“Everything that we hit fell. It was one of those nights where no matter what we did it was going to be right, and whatever they did was going to be wrong,” said Adam Wainwright, who earned the win Friday.
In the past two games, Albert Pujols has five hits and five RBIs, while Skip Schumaker has five hits and six runs for St. Louis, which has scored 49 runs in winning four of five against Atlanta this year.
Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals offense look to back Saturday’s scheduled starter Kyle Lohse (13-6, 3.94 ERA), who tries to avoid extending his season-worst losing streak to four starts.
After four straight losing seasons, Lohse had been enjoying a resurgence this year as he leads the Cardinals in victories. He has been slipping lately, though, by posting a 5.71 ERA in losing his last three starts, his worst stretch since losing a career-high six starts in a row April 26-May 23, 2007 with Cincinnati.
The right-hander pitched OK his last time out, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings, but he received little help from his offense in Sunday’s 7-3 defeat to the Reds.
The game was not without controversy, though. Lohse threw a pitch past the head of Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez, and although Lohse was not ejected, he was issued a five-game suspension. Lohse has appealed the penalty, and can pitch until a hearing is held.
This will be Lohse’s first outing of the season against the Braves (56-73), after posting a 2.63 ERA in winning both of his starts against them last year.
Atlanta has lost 11 of 12 to fall a season-worst 17 games below .500. The Braves, who also dropped six in a row June 6-12, have not lost seven straight since a 10-game skid June 11-22, 2006.
“It was frustrating,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Definitely very, very, very frustrating. We’ve got to stop the way we’re playing. It’s just unacceptable.”
Jorge Campillo (7-6, 3.29) has also been slumping, and he’ll try to break out of his little funk when he takes the ball Saturday.
Campillo has yielded five runs in each of his last three starts after giving up four runs in 28 2-3 innings over his previous five outings. On Monday, the right-hander gave up five runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-0 loss to San Francisco.
Campillo’s only career start against the Cardinals came before his current slide. On July 29, he allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings of an 8-3 loss to St. Louis, but did not factor in the decision.