After the Cardinals pulled off a stunning victory, the right-hander gets his chance to make a big contribution Sunday against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Heading into Saturday, St. Louis (87-71) was three games behind Atlanta in the NL wild card race with five games remaining for each team. The Cardinals also trailed Chicago 1-0 heading into the ninth inning, but a single and a trio of two-out walks brought home the tying run.
“I think people have written us off several times, and I think probably before today they probably wrote us off again,” pitcher Kyle Lohse(notes) said. “To show we can gut it out, come back with a big win like that, is huge.”
Whether St. Louis can cut its deficit to one game might hinge on Jackson’s performance in the series finale. The right-hander was acquired from Toronto on July 27 after he was traded from the Chicago White Sox earlier in the day.
“It’s not a bad situation for me, to get thrown into the fire on a team that’s definitely chasing a playoff berth,” Jackson told the Cardinals’ official website two days after the deal. “It’s a chance to go into the postseason, I’m happy to be thrown into the mix here.”
Jackson (5-2, 3.73 ERA) has performed well in most of his 11 starts for St. Louis and has won his last three decisions. However, he gave up five runs, nine hits and four walks in his last outing during the Cardinals’ 11-6 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday.
Jackson fared better July 29 in his Cardinals debut, allowing one run over seven innings in a 9-2 victory in his only previous start against the Cubs (70-88) at Busch Stadium. Although he lost at Wrigley Field on Aug. 20, he’s 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts against the Cubs this season for St. Louis and the White Sox.
The right-hander gave up five runs for the second straight game Tuesday during a 5-1 loss to Milwaukee, his first defeat in 10 starts since July 28. Wells had won five consecutive decisions before that outing and was 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in four starts Aug. 24-Sept. 10.
“He just couldn’t control the damage,” manager Mike Quade told the team’s website. “He’s been pitching well, and in some of his starts he’s been able to do that.”
Wells is 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals, with no record and a 5.68 ERA in two matchups this season.
Albert Pujols(notes), 2 for 5 with a home run versus Wells in 2011, has reached base in 40 consecutive contests. The Cardinals first baseman has batted .371 with 10 homers during the longest such streak in the majors this season.
St. Louis has managed just three runs in the first two games of this series, but Matt Holliday’s(notes) bat might help. The outfielder returned Saturday after a nine-game absence due to a finger injury, and his single sparked the ninth-inning rally, which improved the Cardinals to 15-7 in September.
After Sunday’s game, St. Louis finishes the regular season with three at Houston.