The St. Louis Cardinals hope to pad their NL Central lead while the Los Angeles Dodgers look to climb out of the NL West basement, as the two are set to begin a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Friday.
The Cardinals' 30 wins are tied with the Rangers for the most in the majors entering the weekend. They opened their eight-game road swing by taking two of three from the Padres earlier this week, capped by Wednesday's 5-3 series- clinching victory.
The St. Louis offense churned out 14 hits and chased Padres starter Burch Smith out of the game in the second inning. It was a timely hitting outburst in support of left-hander Tyler Lyons, who was making his big league debut. The rookie hurler held San Diego to one run on four hits as he lasted seven innings.
"It was everything I could have asked for," Lyons said.
The win improved the Cards to a major league-best 16-8 on the road, while the Dodgers are just 11-13 at home this season.
Los Angeles is at the bottom of the NL West standings, six games back of the three teams that currently share the division lead.
"The biggest frustration as a manager is that you don't have a chance to go out and do anything about it," said manager Don Mattingly, a former six-time All-Star. "At some point, your hands are tied."
Mattingly's Dodgers just wrapped up a 2-4 road trip, although they are coming off a promising 9-2 win at Milwaukee on Wednesday to win that three-game series. A five-run second inning provided all the cushion needed for starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who went 7 1/3 innings and yielded two runs on six hits.
The Dodgers will turn to Chris Capuano to start Friday's series opener. Capuano began the season in the bullpen but has since been moved to the rotation due to injuries and is coming off two straight quality starts. The lefty got a no-decision against the Braves on Saturday after allowing one run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five batters.
St. Louis will send Lance Lynn to the mound, as the right-hander is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA on the season. Like Capuano, Lynn is also coming off a no-decision his last time out when he gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings of work against the Brewers on Saturday. It marked the first time in six starts he failed to complete seven innings.
"Everything seems to be coming together and that's what you ask for," Lynn said. "I would have liked to have pitched better (on Saturday) to help us win the game, but everyone else picked up the slack."
This is the first meeting between these two teams in 2013. The Dodgers claimed a slight 6-5 edge in the head-to-head series last season, and the run differential was a dead-even 46-46.