St. Louis (82-68) at Philadelphia (97-52)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 17, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals have refused to give up on joining the Philadelphia Phillies in the postseason, winning eight of nine to shrink their deficit in the wild-card race.

Jake Westbrook’s(notes) success on the road may help them inch even closer Saturday night, when the Cardinals and Phillies continue their four-game set.

St. Louis took the series opener 4-2 in 11 innings Friday after blowing a one-run lead in the ninth. Coupled with Atlanta’s 12-2 loss to New York, the Cardinals (82-68) pulled to within 3 1/2 games of the Braves with 12 remaining. They’re 5 1/2 behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee.

Albert Pujols(notes) went 4 for 4 on Friday and is hitting .414 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 15 games. He’s 7 for 13 in three games against the Phillies this season.

“It was a great example of what we’ve been doing,” manager Tony La Russa said. “The guys were outstanding. We hung in there and got a great win.”

St. Louis’ starting rotation is 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA during the hot stretch, and another superb road outing from Westbrook (12-8, 4.61) may help keep the Cardinals rolling.

Westbrook has gone 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 15 starts away from home, giving up two earned runs or less in 10 of them. He’s 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in his last five starts overall after allowing two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 win over Atlanta on Sunday. He’s given up two earned runs in four starts during that stretch.

The right-hander allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-1 home victory over the Phillies on May 16.

Philadelphia (97-52) had its three-game winning streak snapped Friday. The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in their last eight games while going 4-4.

Their No. 1-4 hitters - Jimmy Rollins(notes), Shane Victorino(notes), Chase Utley(notes) and Hunter Pence(notes) - went 0 for 18 on Friday. Rollins is 3 for 20 (.150) in eight games since coming off the disabled list, and Utley is hitting .149 in his last 11.

Ryan Howard(notes) wasn’t in the starting lineup for the fourth time in nine games due to a left ankle injury, though he hit a two-out double in the ninth as a pinch-hitter. Pinch-runner Michael Martinez(notes) scored the tying run when Cardinals outfielder Corey Patterson(notes) dropped Carlos Ruiz’s(notes) fly ball.

The Phillies have already clinched a playoff berth, though they missed a chance to clinch their fifth straight NL East title.

“We didn’t do enough hitting tonight to get there,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’re going to clinch. I like our position. Nobody’s scared. We’re going to do it.”

Roy Oswalt(notes) (7-9, 3.88) will take the mound looking to help accomplish that feat.

Oswalt is 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA in his last four starts and is coming off one of his roughest outings of the season. He tied a season high by allowing five runs in seven innings of a 5-1 loss to Houston on Monday.

The right-hander had his shortest start of the season June 23 against the Cardinals, allowing four runs and five hits in two innings of a 12-2 loss. He didn’t receive a decision in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on May 17 when he gave up one run in five innings.

Oswalt hasn’t beaten the Cardinals in eight starts, going 0-4 with a 4.50 ERA.

Pujols is hitting .313 with five homers lifetime off Oswalt.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Westbrook STL vs. R. Oswalt COL
12-9 Record 9-10
4.66 ERA 3.69
104 K 93
73 BB 33
1.53 WHIP 1.34


Saturday, Sep 17