A late flurry of wins has given St. Louis’ playoff hopes a huge boost.
While the Philadelphia Phillies are assured of a return trip to the postseason, Roy Halladay(notes) would like to slow the Cardinals’ momentum while bolstering his bid for a second straight NL Cy Young Award.
The Cardinals look to continue their surge for the wild card Monday night when they conclude their four-game set in Philadelphia.
St. Louis has taken two of three in the series after Sunday’s 5-0 win. Allen Craig(notes), playing for injured outfielder Matt Holliday(notes) (hand), had his second career two-homer game and Albert Pujols(notes) extended his NL lead with his 36th homer.
The Cardinals (83-69) have won nine of 11 to pull within 3 1/2 games of wild card-leading Atlanta. They’re also 6 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee with a game in hand.
“Common sense is if you allow anything to distract you, then it’s going to take away from your best shot,” manager Tony La Russa said. “So don’t think about anything but the next game we’re going to play.
“We can’t control what Atlanta does. But if we don’t win a bunch of games, then it’s all irrelevant. We’re just trying to win the game we play in the series we’re playing.”
The Cardinals are the only NL team with a winning record (5-3) against the Phillies, and have a favorable upcoming schedule as they try to rally for their eighth playoff berth since 2000. Following Monday’s matchup, St. Louis’ final nine games are against the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Houston - currently a combined 64 games below .500.
“We’ve been playing well and hopefully we can continue it (Monday) and get back home and continue it at home,” said Chris Carpenter, who earned his 10th win Sunday.
While winning consistently down the stretch is vital for St. Louis, the playoff-bound Phillies (98-53) are virtually assured of their first 100-win season since 1977, and will look to Halladay (18-5, 2.34 ERA) to build off his first shutout of 2011.
The right-hander recorded his NL-best eighth complete game and helped Philadelphia become the first team to clinch a playoff spot with Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Houston.
“…Going to the playoffs is always a thrill. That’s the ultimate reason you’re playing the game,” Halladay told the Phillies’ official website.
Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals. He allowed one run in six innings June 21, but didn’t get a decision in the Phillies’ 10-2 victory at St. Louis.
No current Cardinal has homered off Halladay. Pujols has gone 1 for 7 against him
The right-hander is 0-3 with 6.64 ERA in his last four appearances against Philadelphia. That includes a 4-0 loss June 22 at Busch Stadium, where Lohse allowed three runs over eight solid innings while Cliff Lee(notes) tossed a six-hitter for the Phillies.
Lohse is 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in his last six starts away from home. He will be going on a week’s rest after failing to get a decision in last Monday’s 6-5 loss at Pittsburgh. He gave up three runs and eight hits over six innings in that contest.
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard(notes), who is 7 for 14 with two homers off Lohse over the past four seasons, missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and is scheduled to receive an anti-inflammatory injection Monday.
Howard leads Philadelphia with 33 homers and 113 RBIs. No other Phillie has more than 19 homers or 77 RBIs.