The Atlanta Braves are comfortably leading the NL wild-card race, and facing their closest pursuer this weekend gives them a golden opportunity to take a step closer to the playoffs.
The Braves will try to beat the Cardinals at St. Louis for the first time in two years when the teams open this three-game set Friday night.
Atlanta (84-60) appears on its way to a second consecutive playoff berth, leading the wild-card race by 7 1/2 games over St. Louis (76-67) with 18 games remaining.
Having dropped three straight and five of six, the Braves came to New York on Thursday and left with a doubleheader sweep of the Mets. They won the opener 6-5 before taking the nightcap 5-1, getting three hits and three RBIs from Chipper Jones(notes), who batted second for the first time in 15 years.
“It was a good day for us especially after this weekend - or this week in Philly - to come back and right the ship,” Jones said.
Atlanta closes an eight-game trip with its first visit to St. Louis since it was swept in a four-game series April 26-29, 2010.
Michael Bourn(notes) should be happy to see Busch Stadium for the first time as a member of the Braves. He hit .368 with five doubles and 12 runs in his last 17 road games against the Cardinals while playing for Houston.
Randall Delgado(notes) (0-1, 4.20 ERA) makes his fourth start for the Braves. The rookie right-hander didn’t get a decision Sunday, allowing three runs and four hits with four strikeouts and three walks in five innings of a 4-3 defeat to Los Angeles.
The Cardinals have won nine of 13 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, winning two of three against Central-leading Milwaukee to get within eight games of the Brewers.
“We’re just looking to win as many games as we can and see where we’re at on the 28th of September,” Albert Pujols(notes) told the team’s official website. “Just try to give our best, go out and play hard every day and try to win series. Hopefully we can get a little streak going here.”
Pujols has a .406 average with three homers and seven RBIs in his last eight games. He’s batting .361 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 29 career home games against Atlanta and is 6 for 11 in the last three meetings there.
Jay has five consecutive multi-hit games, going 11 for 18 with two homers and three RBIs. However, he’s 2 for 19 lifetime versus Atlanta.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA over his last three starts. He was solid Sunday, yielding two runs while striking out eight in seven innings of a 3-2 loss in 10 to Cincinnati.
Jackson has no record and a 5.00 ERA in three games - one start - against the Braves.