Milwaukee (64-68) at St. Louis (79-55)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 2:15 pm EDT Thu Sep 3, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Following a miserable stint with Boston, John Smoltz(notes) felt like he could still be a productive pitcher in the majors.

He’s making a believer out of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Smoltz looks to continue his strong start for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and help them continue their late-season surge when he takes the ball in Thursday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers.

After going 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox, Smoltz (1-0, 0.82 ERA) was released and his illustrious career appeared to be over. St. Louis (79-55) decided to give him a chance, and the 21-year veteran is showing new life with his new team.

St. Louis signed Smoltz on Aug. 19 hoping he could give them a couple of decent starts with both Kyle Lohse(notes) and Todd Wellemeyer(notes) on the 15-day disabled list, but it’s going to be hard to take the 42-year-old right-hander out of the rotation with the way he’s been pitching.

Smoltz allowed three hits while striking out nine in five scoreless innings of a 5-2 win over San Diego on Aug. 23 in his St. Louis debut, and followed that by yielding one run and four hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 3-2 win over Washington on Friday, but didn’t receive a decision.

“He knew he could still pitch when he got released by Boston,” St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols(notes) said. “Obviously, he’s just been unbelievable.”

Smoltz now looks to lead the Cardinals to their first sweep over the Brewers since Aug. 14-16, 2007, in Milwaukee.

This will be Smoltz’s first start against the Brewers since 2007, when he pitched for Atlanta. The 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner is 3-0 with a 3.15 ERA in five career starts versus Milwaukee.

St. Louis defeated the Brewers 10-3 on Wednesday for its 20th victory in 24 games to remain 10 1/2 games up on the Chicago Cubs in the division. Pujols, Skip Schumaker(notes) and Yadier Molina(notes) each drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who are tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the league’s best record.

“It’s a sign of a potential distraction for this team,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We need to crank out series and try to get to the finish line, and whatever the number turns out to be it turns out to be.”

The Brewers (64-68) have dropped 10 of 16 with an inconsistent offense plating 44 runs in those victories, but only 39 runs in those losses.

Milwaukee had plenty of scoring opportunities Wednesday, but went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.

Slugger Ryan Braun is 2 for 14 with one RBI in his last four games and is hitting .143 with one double and no RBIs in his last eight against the Cardinals.

In the finale, Manny Parra(notes) (9-10, 6.66) takes the ball for the Brewers again trying to bounce back from a shaky outing.

Parra earned a win against Pittsburgh on Friday, but wasn’t particularly sharp, giving up six runs, 10 hits and four walks in six innings of an 8-6 victory. He has yielded at least six runs in three of his last four starts and has a 7.14 ERA in his last seven.

“For my own personal satisfaction, I’d like to pitch better,” the left-hander said.

Although it has been a difficult season for Parra, his best start came against St. Louis on July 9, when he allowed three hits with seven strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 loss.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Parra Cin vs. J. Smoltz StL
11-11 Record 3-8
6.36 ERA 6.35
116 K 73
77 BB 18
1.83 WHIP 1.45


Thursday, Sep 3