The St. Louis Cardinals bounced back nicely from a series-opening defeat. Manager Tony La Russa’s club needs to keep building momentum with a critical divisional matchup on the horizon.
After its four-game winning streak was snapped with Friday’s 11-8 defeat, St. Louis (74-65) responded Saturday with a 6-4 victory, its seventh in nine games.
With the win, the second-place Cardinals remained 8 1/2 games behind Central-leading Milwaukee, which won 8-2 at Houston later Saturday.
St. Louis, which hosts the Brewers for three games starting Monday, will try to enter that crucial series with strong momentum after Jackson (4-2, 3.57 ERA) takes the hill for the finale of the set with Cincinnati (68-71).
The right-hander has been a great addition to the Cardinals’ staff, allowing two runs or fewer in five of seven starts since being acquired from Toronto in a three-team deal July 27.
Jackson went seven strong innings in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at Milwaukee, giving up just one run and not surrendering a walk for the first time in 12 starts. He also had an RBI single.
“That just shows you what he’s capable of doing,” La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “To come into this situation and keep everything together, his concentration. … It was really impressive.”
Jackson has never faced the Reds.
Cincinnati will counter with Bronson Arroyo(notes) (8-11, 5.13), who has been tagged for a major league-high 36 homers - a Reds record for a right-hander and four short of the overall club record set by Eric Milton(notes) in 2005.
“I probably had been more frustrated in the past. Going 9-15 with 22 quality starts in ’07 wasn’t real fun,” Arroyo told the Reds’ official website after giving up a pair of homers and six runs in 5 1-3 innings of Tuesday’s 9-0 loss to Philadelphia. ” … I haven’t really matched the quality starts I’ve had over the past five seasons, so it’s a little easier to swallow. Regardless, you’d like to go out and perform better than you have.”
The veteran has not fared well against the Cardinals in 2011, going 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in three starts. In 13 career starts in St. Louis, Arroyo is 2-7 with a 6.48 ERA.
Albert Pujols(notes), who along with Matt Holliday(notes) are the two Cardinals to go deep off Arroyo this season, is 8 for 11 in his last three games overall, increasing his average to a season-best .296.
“I feel pretty good swinging the bat,” Pujols said. “Hopefully, I can continue to do that.”
Holliday is batting .360 (9 for 25) with four homers and seven RBIs in his last seven games versus Cincinnati.
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce(notes) is one homer shy of 30 after hitting a two-run shot Saturday. He has three straight two-hit games at Busch Stadium after going 1 for 19 in the Reds’ first three games in St. Louis in 2011.
Cincinnati, which has already matched its loss total from last season when it won its first division title in 15 years, will try to win its first series at St. Louis since a three-game sweep June 5-7, 2006.