After a rough start, Jake Westbrook(notes) has pitched well for St. Louis the last month. The Cardinals hope he can stay sharp and help keep the surging Milwaukee Brewers from overtaking them for first place in the NL Central.
Westbrook looks for a fifth straight victory Sunday while trying to help the Cardinals avoid being swept by the Brewers and lose their hold of first place Sunday at Miller Park.
Rickie Weeks(notes) hit a two-run homer and Corey Hart(notes) added a two-run double in a four-run sixth inning in Milwaukee’s 5-3 win Saturday. The Brewers (37-28) have won 24 of 33 to move within one-half game of the Cardinals.
St. Louis (38-28) has dropped three of four and is in danger of being swept at Miller Park for the first time since April 30-May 2, 2007.
“The good thing is we’ve still got a lot of time left in the summer, so we have got to keep on playing hard,” Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay(notes) said. “There is still plenty of baseball to be played, and there are going to be more close games like (Saturday), so we just have to stay positive.”
The Brewers also are not reading too much into this series.
Milwaukee has not had much success against Westbrook (6-3, 5.01 ERA), who has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings while not factoring in the decision of two career starts against the Brewers.
The right-hander went 2-3 with a 6.92 ERA in his first eight starts, but is 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA his last five despite not pitching past the sixth inning in the past three. He gave up two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-4 win at Houston on Tuesday, and delivered a three-run double to help his cause.
“Anytime you can put up some runs yourself, it feels great,” Westbrook told the Cardinals’ official website.
The Cardinals might need some offensive help from Westbrook again after being outscored 13-3 in the first two games of the set.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, has banged out 18 hits, including four home runs in the series.
Weeks is 4 for 8 with three RBIs the last two games, but 1 for 7 with a homer versus Westbrook.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts since that victory, but has allowed two runs and seven hits in 13 innings in his last two without receiving a decision. Marcum yielded two hits and walked four in six scoreless innings of a 2-1 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday.
“I’m fighting my mechanics a little bit, fighting location,” Marcum said.