Giants-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

Possibly the biggest reason the San Francisco Giants are atop the NL West is the battery of Buster Posey and Ryan Vogelsong.

Posey looks to continue his tear at the plate and Vogelsong goes for his 10th win Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

After dropping Monday's opener in St. Louis 8-2, the Giants (60-50) bounced back with a 4-2 victory Tuesday, their fourth win in five games. San Francisco went ahead on Posey's three-run, first-inning homer, and the Cardinals (60-50) couldn't recover, losing for the first time in eight games at Busch Stadium.

Posey has been locked in lately, hitting five homers while driving in 12 runs in his last six games, and leads the majors with a .448 batting average and 30 RBIs since the All-Star break.

"I'm just trying to stay with a consistent approach,'' said Posey, who is 8 for 16 with six RBIs against St. Louis this year. "Have a plan when I go up to bat and keep it simple."

The Giants have won the last nine games in which their All-Star catcher has knocked in at least two runs, and have enjoyed similar success whenever Vogelsong takes the mound, winning 13 of his last 16 starts.

Vogelsong (9-5, 2.38 ERA), owner of the majors' second-best ERA, surrendered one hit through six innings at Colorado on Friday before getting into trouble in the seventh. He gave up four runs and four hits that inning and only got one out as his streak of 15 straight quality starts came to an end. Despite the shaky finish, he got more than enough run support to earn a 16-4 win.

It was a strange twist for the right-hander, who had allowed four total runs over his previous three starts but had only one win to show for it.

This will be his first start against St. Louis since May 31, 2011, when he allowed one in five innings and didn't get a decision in a 4-3 loss. There are several Cardinals he'll have to be careful facing this time.

Yadier Molina has an 11-game hitting streak, and is batting .471 in his last eight. Allen Craig, who homered twice Tuesday, is hitting .367 with seven RBIs in his last eight contests.

Carlos Beltran, batting .308 with four homers during a nine-game hitting streak, is 3 for 6 with a homer and a double against Vogelsong since the start of last season.

The Cardinals, 2 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot, counter with Joe Kelly (2-4, 3.14), who will face the Giants for the first time.

Kelly allowed a season-high 10 hits and walked two in 5 2-3 innings against Milwaukee on Friday, but managed to limit the damage to three runs and got credit for a 9-3 win. It was his first victory since June 22, despite recording a 2.72 ERA while making a quality start in each of his six outings in between.

The rookie right-hander gave up hits to five of the first 10 Brewers he faced and didn't record his first swinging strike until his 37th pitch, but overcame the rough start.

"This was a great lesson for him,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "He learned how to pitch when he didn't have his best stuff. He did a nice job of getting himself out of trouble.''

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