Jake Westbrook has gotten plenty of offensive support from his St. Louis Cardinals teammates during one of the longest winning streaks of his career.
The right-hander, though, may need to rely on himself more in a bid to win a career-high fifth consecutive start Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Westbrook (11-8, 3.76 ERA) has benefited from a combined 30 runs from the Cardinals (61-52) in winning his previous four outings. After giving up five runs in a win at Colorado on Aug. 1, the right-hander performed better in his return home Monday against San Francisco, yielding two solo homers and walking none in an 8-2 victory.
"I was locating a lot better than I did in Colorado," he told the team's website after throwing just 79 pitches. "The key for me is getting ahead and controlling counts, which I did a good job of today. It's good to get back on track in that sense."
Westbrook got five runs from his teammates over his six innings in that game, but the Cardinals have hit .180 and scored six runs in losing three of four. Before that, St. Louis hit .306 and outscored opponents 105-53 while winning 13 of 17.
The Cardinals got their only run in a 3-1 loss Friday from Carlos Beltran's fourth homer in seven games. Chase Utley's tiebreaking two-run shot in the eighth inning was his third in seven contests, and he helped Philadelphia (51-61) improve to 4-1 against St. Louis.
"You're not trying to do too much, you're trying to get that guy in any way you can," Utley said. "That one felt pretty good. I squared that one up decently."
Cliff Lee (2-6, 3.78) will try to lead the Phillies to another win over the Cardinals while earning his second victory in three starts. After tossing seven scoreless innings in Washington on July 31, the left-hander had difficulty keeping the ball in the park Sunday against Arizona.
Lee gave up four runs on three homers over eight innings and did not get a decision in a 5-4 victory. He's 0-4 with a 4.53 ERA in eight outings at Citizens Bank Park, where has given up seven home runs over his past two games there.
"I have to do a better job of keeping the ball down and in the ballpark, especially when it's hot here because the ball travels really good," he said.
The left-hander has given up one homer in five regular-season starts against the Cardinals, going 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA. Lee didn't give up any during Game 2 of last year's division series, but he allowed five runs and 12 hits over six innings of a 5-4 loss.
Westbrook also struggled May 24 against Philadelphia, his lone matchup this season, giving up a season-high six runs over a season-low 3 2-3 innings. He did not get a decision in that 10-9 loss.
Westbrook has won five consecutive decisions only once, over a six-start span from July 20-Aug. 14, 2004, while with Cleveland.
Beltran is batting .133 (2 for 15) in his career against Lee, his worst average versus any active pitcher he's had 15 or more at-bats against.
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Jake Westbrook