(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Cardinals are marching.
And based on recent performance, it's pretty unlikely that the suddenly spent Cincinnati Reds are going to do a whole lot about it when the teams convene at Great American Ball Park on Monday night to open a four-game series.
The Cardinals begin the week with a cushy 4 1/2-game lead in the National League's Central Division over Pittsburgh and five games over the Milwaukee Brewers, whom they beat three out of four over the weekend in Wisconsin.
In fact, St. Louis reaches Cincinnati having won eight of its last nine. Since 2011, the Cardinals are 58-29 in September, the best mark in the majors.
They've beaten the Reds five straight times and lead the season series, 9-3. Cincinnati was 1 1/2 games off the division lead at the All-Star break, but its 16-32 record since is the worst in the big leagues.
The Reds dropped two of three to the visiting New York Mets over the weekend.
"It would be nice to get out from underneath and be a team that plays a role in some of these deciding games for the postseason," manager Bryan Price said.
The Cardinals open the series with starter Shelby Miller, who's won just once in the last three months. He got a no-decision against the Pirates in his last start on Wednesday after allowing three hits in seven scoreless innings of a game St. Louis ultimately won, 1-0.
He's dropped both starts against the Reds in 2014 with a 5.73 earned run average and is 1-2 in his last six road outings with a 6.23 ERA.
Cincinnati goes with Dylan Axelrod for the fourth time since an August call- up.
He's never faced St. Louis and was beaten, 6-0, in his last start on Wednesday at Baltimore after allowing four runs in six innings.
On Sunday in Milwaukee, Adam Wainwright tossed his fourth complete game of the season to lead the Cardinals in a 9-1 win over the Brewers to cap a four-game series.
Wainwright (17-9) gave up just seven hits and a run while striking out three in his 20th career complete game.
Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run home run, Matt Carpenter and Peter Bourjos drove in two runs each while Oscar Taveras went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
In Cincinnati, Anthony Recker and Curtis Granderson both homered and the New York Mets held off the Reds, 4-3, in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick each drove in a run and Jay Bruce homered for Cincinnati.
Mat Latos (5-5) was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs on seven hits across six frames.