The St. Louis Cardinals have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games, but they’re hoping the beginning of a new month brings more consistency.
What they’ll definitely be getting to open June is a major challenge at the plate.
Tim Lincecum(notes) gave up six earned runs in five starts last month and has won five of his six career starts against St. Louis, patterns of success the Giants ace looks to continue Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals (33-23) won eight of nine from May 16-24 to go from 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central to 3 1/2 games in front, .
Three losses in five games nearly became four in six Tuesday against San Francisco (29-25), but St. Louis didn’t let a late 3-1 deficit get in its way. Doubles from Jon Jay(notes), Albert Pujols(notes) and Allen Craig(notes) tied the score at 3, then Skip Schumaker’s(notes) infield single plated Craig and lifted the Cardinals to a 4-3 win.
“It’s a good win, a comeback win against a very good bullpen,” said Schumaker, who had been 2 for 19 since returning from the disabled list before his big hit. “It’s very meaningful.”
Piecing together consecutive victories won’t be easy against Lincecum (5-4, 2.22 ERA), particularly if Matt Holliday(notes) is again not in the starting lineup. Holliday returned to the lineup Monday after not starting since May 22 because of a strained left quadriceps, but he was limited to pinch-hitting duties Tuesday.
Lincecum, meanwhile, went 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA in May, capping it with a pair of victories. He pitched a three-hitter in a 3-0 win over Oakland on May 21, then gave up three runs over seven innings Friday in Milwaukee, going from a likely loss to a 5-4 win thanks to rookie Brandon Crawford’s(notes) seventh-inning grand slam.
Despite completing a strong month, Lincecum’s velocity was down against the Brewers. The staff ace, though, says he’s fine physically.
“Nothing’s hurt or anything,” Lincecum told the Giants’ official website. “I felt like I was laboring through most of the game, for the most part. Sliders were flat. Fastball was down (in velocity). Changeup was not really diving or anything.”
The two-time Cy Young Award winner was 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA against the Cardinals before giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-1 loss Aug. 21 at Busch.
Pujols, who made his second start of the season at third base Tuesday, is 5 for 14 lifetime versus Lincecum.
Jake Westbrook(notes) (5-3, 5.19) gets the ball for St. Louis seeking his fourth consecutive victory. After giving up one run over 15 innings in wins over Philadelphia and Kansas City, the right-hander wasn’t nearly as sharp Friday in Colorado, but allowing three runs over five innings proved to be good enough in a 10-3 victory.
Westbrook is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three home starts after opening 0-2 with an 18.41 ERA.
He wasn’t sharp at all in the Cardinals’ 5-4, 12-inning loss at San Francisco on April 8. But despite giving up eight hits - including homers to Pat Burrell(notes) and Miguel Tejada(notes) - and walking four over 5 2-3 innings, he only surrendered three runs.
Giants rookie Brandon Belt(notes) will likely miss a few days after being hit in the wrist with a pitch in the seventh inning Tuesday. That could put the struggling Aubrey Huff(notes) back at first base Wednesday, but manager Bruce Bochy said he may give him a second straight day off.