Riding an eight-game winning streak, their longest since the National League championship season of 2004 when they won nine in a row, the Cardinals have assumed their biggest lead since June 20 in the NL Central.
They are 1 1/2 games up on the Reds, and the modus operandi is much as it's been all season -- starting pitching.
Left-handed rookie Jaime Garcia rebounded from one of his shortest outings of the season, 3 1/3 innings, to fire four-hit ball for seven innings Wednesday, matching his longest start of the season. The Cardinals are 39-21 in games started by Garcia (who is 9-4), Chris Carpenter (11-3) and Adam Wainwright (14-5).
Manager Tony La Russa didn't deny the importance of Garcia needing to bounce back after his poor start.
"He just refreshed himself and got back in a good groove," La Russa said.
Garcia, who has had occasional control issues, walked just one.
"He didn't get behind in the count too often, which is tough to do against a team like that," La Russa said.
In his previous start,
Garcia had given up eight hits and two runs against
CARDINALS 5, PHILLIES
1: The Cardinals
are one win away, and they have 14-game winner Adam Wainwright at the ready,
from completing an improbable feat -- back-to-back, four-game home sweeps of Los
Angeles and Philadelphia, the two contestants in last year's NL Championship
Series. LF Matt Holliday homered for the 12th time since June 18 and 18th time
overall to break a 1-1 tie in the seventh. The Cardinals are going for their
third consecutive sweep of a four-game home series, having won one previously
NOTES AND QUOTES
LF Matt Holliday, who says he is looking fastball and adjusting to the breaking ball, finally got the measure of Philadelphia RHP Joe Blanton in the seventh inning with a first-pitch, tiebreaking home run to left. Holliday had flied out deep to left and lined to left in his first two at-bats. He has seven homers already this month, and he missed one game besides the three days off at the All-Star break.
RF Ryan Ludwick, healing
from a left calf strain, homered for the second time in two nights in his rehab
assignment for Class AAA Memphis. Ludwick is 3-for-5 with two sacrifice flies
and five RBI in the two games, having played five and then six innings in the
field. He may join the Cardinals in
RHP Ryan Franklin
recorded his 18th save and third of more than three outs. He entered the game in
the eighth inning with the Cardinals nursing a 2-1 lead. The Phillies had
runners at first and third and two outs with RF Jayson Werth at the plate.
Veteran INF Aaron Miles continues to contribute off the bench. Entering the game in a double switch with closer Ryan Franklin, Miles made a nifty play behind the second base bag to end the Philadelphia eighth, and then started a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning with a single. Miles, who scored the first run in the rally, is hitting .356 in 45 at-bats.
RHP Kyle Lohse threw a simulated game Wednesday, progressing through two sets of 20 pitches to hitters after a 40-pitch warmup. "I felt real good," said Lohse, who will throw a similar session Friday and then hopes to pitch at Class AAA Memphis on a rehab assignment Monday. Lohse, who had forearm surgery in early June, may need three minor league outings before returning, which would take the Cardinals past the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. But if Lohse were all right, they might not need a starter. "I was impressed," manager Tony La Russa said.
2B Skip Schumaker, who didn't play Tuesday due to a sore left wrist, was back in the lineup Wednesday. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, leaving him 3-for-15 since the All-Star break.
OF Austin Wilson, a
highly touted high school player from southern
Jeff Luhnow, the club's vice president of scouting and player development, said, "We're glad he took this opportunity to be in town and meet with the front office and see what it's like to be out on the field and get a taste of Busch Stadium. We're hoping we put our best foot forward and add to his information about making his decision. Obviously his family wouldn't be here if they weren't giving consideration to signing. I'm not going to give you odds because I don't know."
By the Numbers:
15-3 - Cardinals' regular-season
record at new Busch Stadium against the Dodgers since the park opened in 2006.
That doesn't count
Quote to Note:
"When he shut it down, it wasn't like he had been pushed to air it out. That makes you believe it's a very uncertain situation."
- Manager Tony La Russa , on still injured RHP Brad Penny, who is showing no improvement from upper back and shoulder ailments.
2B Skip Schumaker (sore left wrist) did not play July 20. He was back in the lineup July 21.
RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 20, and he might be activated by the weekend of July 23-25.
RF Nick Stavinoha (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12.
RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He will not undergo surgery but is probably out for the year.
3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He also broke his left big toe in mid-July, but he still expects to begin a rehab assignment in late July.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. Lohse threw a simulated game July 21, and he might begin a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 26.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. He is out indefinitely.