With each club trying to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, the Cardinals and Pirates begin a two-game series Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
This is the second time the NL Central foes are meeting at Busch this season. They split a four-game set to open 2009.
St. Louis (17-10) leads the division, but fell 10-7 at home to Philadelphia on Tuesday for its third straight defeat.
The Cardinals are one of the highest-scoring teams in the majors with 148 runs and boast one of the best pitching staffs with a 3.90 ERA, but they’ve been outscored 22-9 during their skid.
Pittsburgh (12-14) lost 8-5 to Milwaukee on Tuesday for its 17th straight loss to the Brewers. After starting 11-7, the Pirates have dropped seven of eight and three straight on the road.
After entering the season with four road wins since 2005, Duke (3-2, 2.21 ERA) will try for his third victory in as many starts away from home.
“I just feel like I’m in control of what I’m doing this year,” Duke told the Pirates’ official Web site. “Every pitch that I’m about to throw, I feel like I know where it’s going to go. Whenever you feel like you’re in command, it definitely helps the confidence out.”
The left-hander, who allowed a run and six hits in seven innings of a 4-0 defeat to Cincinnati on Friday, is 3-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts versus St. Louis. He gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-4 win at Busch on April 8.
Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel(notes) watched from the dugout Tuesday, one night after crashing headfirst into the wall while making a catch. Suffering from a bruised shoulder and other minor injuries, the Cardinals plan to wait and see if they will place him on the disabled list.
“It’s worth waiting a couple of days because there wasn’t anything broken,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Just in case he can go.”
The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits while striking out nine in six innings of a 9-4 loss at Washington on Thursday.
“He’s got legitimate stuff,” La Russa told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “He’s very competitive.”
This will be Boggs’ first appearance versus Pittsburgh.
Sanchez was 8-for-18 with a homer and three RBIs in the April series against Cardinals.