The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates continue heading in opposite directions.
The Cardinals look to add to the Pirates' frustrations Tuesday night when the clubs continue their three-game series in Pittsburgh.
After losing three of four at home to Pittsburgh earlier this month, St. Louis quickly rebounded and has now won six of seven, including a 4-3 victory in Monday's series opener.
Matt Holliday, who went 1 for 15 in the last series against the Pirates, homered to help Kyle Lohse win his eighth straight decision.
Holliday also had four hits in Sunday's victory over Cincinnati, and is batting .452 (14 for 31) with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
With Monday's win, the Cardinals (71-57) moved 2 1/2 games in front of Los Angeles and three ahead of the Pirates for the second NL wild card.
"We've felt for a long time that we've been due to play like we've been playing the last week or so,'' Lohse said. ''We're playing really well now and it's the perfect time because we're coming down the homestretch. It's the right time of the year to win games like this.''
St. Louis, which is averaging 6.6 runs and hitting .357 over the last seven games, expects to have third baseman David Freese (wrist) back in the starting lineup Tuesday. He sat out Saturday and Sunday's games and struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance Monday.
Freese has struggled against the Pirates this season, hitting .188 with 11 strikeouts in 13 games.
While the Cardinals are surging, the Pirates (68-60) are struggling to get back on track. They have lost six of seven since their series in St. Louis and 13 of 18 going back to Aug. 9.
Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker was a late scratch Monday because of lower back stiffness, and his status for Tuesday is uncertain. He's hitting .333 in 10 games against the Cardinals this year, but is just 4 for his last 35 (.114) overall.
On Tuesday, the Pirates will face St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (13-9, 3.67 ERA), who is 6-1 with a 3.30 ERA in his last seven starts overall, but has struggled against Pittsburgh.
Westbrook's lone recent loss came against the Pirates on Aug. 17, although he deserved a better fate, giving up two runs - one earned - in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 defeat.
While the right-hander wasn't as sharp Thursday, allowing five runs in five innings against Houston, he got credit for a 13-5 win.
Westbrook is 1-3 with a 3.71 ERA against Pittsburgh this year, and 1-6 lifetime versus the Pirates.
James McDonald (11-6, 3.73), who bested Westbrook earlier this month by striking out seven and limiting St. Louis to two hits in six scoreless innings, will try to do so again Tuesday.
The right-hander had a rough outing against San Diego on Wednesday, getting charged with four runs, five hits and five walks in five innings of a 4-2 loss.
Even including the strong performance against St. Louis, McDonald has a 7.29 ERA in his last eight starts. However, he's 2-1 with a 2.54 ERA in five career outings versus the Cardinals.