Now, he’ll get his second chance in less than a week to show his former home city what he’s become.
Coming off his third straight All-Star appearance, the major league ERA leader will try to win his fourth straight start when his Arizona Diamondbacks continue their series at Busch Stadium on Saturday.
Haren (9-5, 2.01 ERA) lost his first three starts of the season despite allowing four total runs, and he has only gotten stronger since. The right-hander has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last nine outings, going 6-1 with a 1.48 ERA over that span.
He finished his first half with a four-hit shutout of Florida last Friday, striking out 10 in his third complete game of the year.
“I take pride in going out and throwing as many innings as I can, quality starts and giving my team a chance to win every time, and I’ve done that for the most part,” Haren told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site after the 8-0 win. “I feel real good. I’ve made 18 starts, and I probably have 15 or 16 left.
“If I can do what I did in the first half, I’ll be very happy at the end of the year,” he said.
Haren has made just one appearance against St. Louis, where he started his career after the Cardinals drafted him in the second round in 2001. He beat his former club while with Oakland on June 15, 2007, allowing two earned runs in seven innings of a 14-3 win.
Since the Cardinals traded him to the Athletics after the 2004 season, he hadn’t pitched in St. Louis until working a scoreless fourth inning in Tuesday’s All-Star game.
“It was really fun,” Haren said. “I’ll be able to look back on it maybe after the season and really reflect on how special it was.”
The Diamondbacks’ season has been anything but special, but Arizona (38-52) seemed to be making progress by winning seven of nine going into the break.
The team’s second half started poorly, however, with a 6-1 loss in Friday’s series opener.
The Diamondbacks were blanked for eight innings by Chris Carpenter(notes), and it likely won’t be any easier Saturday against Adam Wainwright(notes). The right-hander has been especially sharp since the start of July, going 2-0 with a 1.07 ERA in his last three starts while working at least eight innings in all of them.
Wainwright (10-5, 3.04) pitched eight strong innings in a 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, and he’s been a big part of the Cardinals’ stellar staff.
St. Louis has a 3.73 ERA to rank fourth in the majors, boosting the team to a three-game lead in the NL Central.
He also leads the majors with 89 RBIs and has boosted his batting average to .334 - second in the NL.
“He’s tough to deal with,” Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s one of the best hitters in baseball, if not the best hitter in baseball. He made us pay a couple of times.”
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