The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t let an injury to one of their top pitchers bring them down. Instead, they kept clicking offensively.
The Cardinals will look to continue their hot hitting in Thursday’s opener of a four-game road series against the rival Chicago Cubs, who are trying to overcome their own injuries.
Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter left Tuesday night’s game in Arizona after straining his ribcage and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner who’s made five appearances the last two seasons, is expected to miss at least four weeks.
St. Louis’ hitters scored six runs after Carpenter exited, but fell 7-6 in 10 innings. The Cardinals (7-3) bounced back Wednesday with a season high for runs in a 12-7 win.
“I’ve said from day one to all of our fans, you’re never going to question whether this club is ready to play,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Duncan’s nine-game streak is tied for the best in the majors, and Ludwick has a hit in all seven of his games - and a career-best 18 counting his 11-game streak to end last season. Molina has hit .421 in his last six games and driven in at least one run in six contests this season.
Then there’s reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols, among the league leaders with 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored while hitting .342. After their 11-hit performance on Wednesday, the Cardinals raised their average to .296, and despite losing four of six last season at Wrigley, St. Louis scored 12 runs in each win.
That could mean a tough first start for the Cubs’ Sean Marshall.
The left-hander earned the team’s fifth starting spot out of spring training and has not allowed a run in two relief appearances this season. After starting in his first two seasons, Marshall was the team’s long reliever in 2008 and appeared in 34 games and made seven starts, finishing 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA.
He is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his career against Cardinals and took a win in his only start last season against St. Louis on July 6, giving up one run over six innings.
With starters Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley out, Chicago (5-3) had a three-game win streak snapped with Wednesday’s 5-2 home loss to Colorado. A third All-Star, catcher Geovany Soto, played for the second time since April 7 due to a sore shoulder.
While the status of Ramirez (back) is uncertain for Thursday, Bradley (groin) is not expected to return until the weekend.
“He’s better there’s no question,” manager Lou Piniella told the team’s official Web site about Bradley. “He’s doing a lot better than he was the other day, although he still feels it somewhat.”
St. Louis will start Adam Wainwright (1-0, 1.74), who threw five shutout innings April 11 against Houston. Wainwright is 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in 15 lifetime appearances - six starts - against the Cubs.
Chicago has won four of the last five meetings.