St. Louis (66-55) at Florida (62-57)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Miami Gardens, FL, US
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Tue Aug 12, 2008
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Kyle Lohse’s surprising success is a big reason the St. Louis Cardinals remain a serious playoff contender.

The Cardinals’ unexpected ace again looks to match a career high in wins while trying to lead his club to a second consecutive victory over the host Florida Marlins on Tuesday night.

St. Louis (66-55) improved to 2-2 on its 10-game road trip by beating Florida 4-2 on Monday. The win left the Cardinals three games back of wild card leader Milwaukee.

The Marlins (62-57), meanwhile, lost for the third time in four games to leave them 2 1/2 games behind NL East leader Philadelphia and six out of the wild card.

The Cardinals hope to further extend their wild-card margin over the Marlins by handing the ball to Lohse (13-4, 3.80 ERA), who went 14-11 for Minnesota in 2003. The right-hander, though, has hit a bit of a rough spot in his resurgent season.

He allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday, dropping him to 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA over his previous four starts. He’s given up five home runs in his last three outings.

“(Lohse) competed,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official Web site about the right-hander’s last outing. “His stuff was good enough, he just didn’t get anything.”

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts against the Marlins, losers 11 of their last 14 matchups with the Cardinals.

Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer Monday while Rick Ankiel went 2-for-3 with an RBI in his first start since July 26 for St. Louis, which dropped two of three to NL Central-leading Chicago over the weekend.

Molina, hitting .304, has driven in four runs in his last three games.

“In a hard, close game like that one guy can mean winning or losing,” La Russa said of Molina, who homered for the first time since June 20 at Boston. “We don’t win without his effort.”

Though dealing with an abdominal strain, Ankiel is batting .386 (17-for-44) with 10 RBIs in his last 10 starts.

“I’ll just see how I respond to game situations and hope for the best,” Ankiel said.

The Cardinals could be in for a challenge Tuesday against Florida rookie Chris Volstad (3-2, 2.67), who tries for his second consecutive victory when he faces St. Louis for the first time in his sixth career start.

The right-hander was strong in his last outing, allowing three hits in six innings of a 3-0 win at Philadelphia on Thursday.

“He’s 21 years old and he pitched like a guy who’s been around 10-12 years,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the 2005 first-round pick.

Hanley Ramirez had three hits Monday and Cody Ross hit his 17th home run for Florida, loser of three of its last four at home. Ross, enjoying a breakout season, is batting .368 (7-for-19) over his last six games.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse TEX vs. C. Volstad CWS
15-6 Record 6-4
3.78 ERA 2.88
119 K 52
49 BB 36
1.30 WHIP 1.33