Oakland (33-37) at St. Louis (38-30)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 2:15 pm EDT Sun Jun 20, 2010
  • TV: CSCA, FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals are atop the NL Central despite getting little production from Matt Holliday(notes).

The slugger is finally starting to heat up, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the division.

Following another strong performance at the plate, Holliday looks to help the Cardinals sweep the scuffling Oakland Athletics in Sunday’s finale.

Holliday got off to a brilliant start for St. Louis (38-30), batting .423 with three homers and six RBIs in his first six games but quickly cooled off. The three-time All-Star hit .267 with three home runs and 19 RBIs over the next 58 contests and endured a career-worst 43 at-bat RBI drought before homering and driving in three in Friday’s 6-4 series-opening victory. He again homered and knocked in three in Saturday’s 4-3 win.

“I’m willing to bet whatever anybody wants to bet that by the time we get to the first of October you’re going to see a lot more of the Matt that’s been seven years showing what he can do than a guy that struggles,” Tony La Russa said. “He is big damage.”

La Russa is counting on Holliday, who hasn’t homered in three consecutive games since Sept 18-20, 2007, with Colorado, to help St. Louis reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Cardinals have a 1 1/2-game lead over Cincinnati in the division.

In the finale, La Russa will give the ball to Jeff Suppan(notes) (0-2, 7.20 ERA), who is coming off an encouraging season debut for the Cardinals.

Suppan signed with St. Louis on Monday one week after he was cut by Milwaukee. The right-hander struggled in his relief role with the Brewers, but Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan believed the 16-year veteran could still be effective with Brad Penny(notes) (upper back) possibly out until the All-Star break and Kyle Lohse(notes) (forearm) on the 60-day disabled list.

Making his first start since April 23, Suppan allowed one run and four hits while striking out four in four innings of Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Seattle. The 2006 NLCS MVP threw 73 pitches in first appearance for St. Louis since Game 4 of the ’06 World Series.

“I thought he did a really good job for us,” La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “More importantly, he pitched in a game that we won. We were hoping that he would do well enough, that we could win the game, and he could do something he could build on, and I think he accomplished that.”

Suppan hasn’t faced Oakland since 2004, and it’s been considerably longer since his last win over the franchise. He is 0-5 with a 3.88 ERA in eight starts against the A’s since beating them in 1999 while with Kansas City.

Oakland (33-37) has lost four straight and seven of eight, with the lone win coming in scheduled starter Trevor Cahill’s(notes) last outing. The A’s are averaging 2.7 runs in these defeats while batting .177 with runners in scoring positions.

Cahill (6-2, 3.23) was shaky in Tuesday’s 9-5 win over the Chicago Cubs, allowing four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. It was the first time since April 30 the right-hander yielded more than three runs.

Although Cahill wasn’t at his best, he still improved to 5-0 in his last six starts, and 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 outings since Aug. 27.

This will be his first appearance against the Cardinals.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Cahill ChC vs. J. Suppan SD
18-8 Record 3-8
2.97 ERA 5.06
118 K 51
63 BB 37
1.11 WHIP 1.65

Scoreboard

Sunday, Jun 20