Phillies-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

Wins have been hard to come by lately for the St. Louis Cardinals, who are no longer atop the NL Central.

They appear to have the right man taking the mound to help them avoid another loss.

The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia seeks to continue his recent success Saturday night against a Philadelphia Phillies team looking to run its winning streak to four.

St. Louis (25-21) entered this four-game rematch of an NL division series from last October coming off a three-game sweep of San Diego, but has come up short in each of its first two games against the Phillies (24-23). The Cardinals dropped out of first place in the Central for the first time all season after Thursday's 10-9 loss, then fell 5-3 in 10 innings Friday.

They've won just five times in their last 15 games, although Garcia (3-2, 3.55 ERA) was the starting pitcher for two of those victories.

After recording a 7.71 ERA in his first two May starts, Garcia has posted a 1.88 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 14 1-3 innings over his last two outings. The left-hander didn't get a decision in Monday's 4-3 victory over the Padres after yielding two runs in seven innings.

Garcia would seem primed for another strong showing considering in four career starts against the Phillies, he is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA - his lowest against any opponent.

He has shut down some of Philadelphia's top bats, limiting leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins to a .091 average (1 for 11) and Hunter Pence to three hits in 15 at-bats.

Pence was the hero for the Phillies on Friday, snapping an 0-for-13 skid with a two-run homer in the 10th inning to send his team to its third straight victory following a season-high four-game skid.

"Every win is big, and to get the lead in the 10th inning is huge, no matter how you get the runs across,'' said Pence, who has a team-high 11 home runs.

Philadelphia improved to 20-6 when plating at least four runs, but is 4-17 when scoring three or fewer. Probable Saturday starter Kyle Kendrick (0-4, 5.23) is plenty familiar with what happens when the Phillies struggle to score.

Filling the rotation spot of the injured Vance Worley (elbow), Kendrick pitched effectively against Washington on Monday, giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings, but didn't receive any run support and got charged with a 2-1 loss. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts, but has been backed by five total runs of support.

"You can't control run support," he said. "It's totally out of your hands.''

Kendrick, who made two relief appearances against St. Louis last season, is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts versus the Cardinals.

St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday had a rough night Friday, stranding a team-high four runners on base, and could have more trouble against Kendrick, against whom he is 2 for 14 lifetime.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, batting .429 over a seven-game stretch that has raised his season average 24 points to .316, is 2 for 11 with a double off Kendrick.

What to Read Next