The St. Louis Cardinals are slipping a bit and look to right the ship when they return home to open a three-game series with the Miami Marlins from Busch Stadium.
Friday's contest will kick off a five-game homestand for the Cardinals, who went 3-5 on a recent road trip and lost two of three against the LA Angels of Anaheim to close the trek.
The Cardinals were aiming for a series win Thursday, but dropped a 6-5 decision with workhorse Adam Wainwright on the mound. Wainwright was tagged for four runs and seven hits in eight inning, while Edward Mujica was dealt the loss for allowing the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.
St. Louis had a 5-3 lead heading into the ninth and failed to close it out.
"Obviously, it didn't end well, and that's extremely frustrating when you have the lead like that," Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig said. "But we haven't experienced that too much this season, and it's bound to happen. Mujica has been pretty much perfect all year, and he's done a great job."
Craig belted a three-run homer and Daniel Descalso added three hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Cardinals, losers in eight of 11 games. Despite their recent struggles, the Cardinals are still just two games behind Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead.
The last time St. Louis was at Busch Stadium it was swept in three games by the Texas Rangers. Jake Westbrook will get the nod Friday hoping to reverse St. Louis' fortunes and is 4-3 in 10 starts with a 2.95 ERA. Westbrook had won two straight starts and was 4-1 in his past five decisions until last Sunday's 7-5 loss at Oakland, where he pitched only four innings and permitted six runs and 10 hits.
Westbrook, a right-hander, lost at Miami on June 14 and gave up five runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in five innings. He is 2-0 in three starts at Busch Stadium this season and 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins.
The Marlins have been playing much better of late with 10 wins in their past 13 contests. The won the last two tests of a three-game series against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and closed the set with Thursday's 4-3 victory.
Donovan Solano singled in Ed Lucas for the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and Steve Cishek worked around a walk in the bottom half for his 17th save of the season. A.J. Ramos threw two scoreless innings for the win and starter Henderson Alvarez allowed three runs in five innings.
"That's what we need is some timely hitting because we're playing good defense," Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison said. "As long as we keep improving and keep going forward, I don't see any reason why we can't keep winning."
Marcell Ozuna had three hits, including a home run, and two RBI, while Lucas knocked in a run for Miami.
Taking the mound for the improving Marlins Friday will be Jacob Turner, who is 2-0 with a 1.76 earned run average in six starts. Turner was brilliant his last time out on Saturday in a 7-1 win over San Diego and gave up just one run in going the distance for the first time in his career.
Turner faced the Cardinals the only time in his career last June 21 and delivered five innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win for the no-decision.
Miami won two of three versus St. Louis down south in mid-June.