The lowly Miami Marlins are already winless in four meetings with the St. Louis Cardinals, and now they have to face John Lackey at Busch Stadium.
Lackey, who owns one of the NL's best home ERAs, will try to get his first victory in four starts Saturday night in the middle game of this series.
St. Louis (74-41) has outscored Miami 18-6 this season after Jaime Garcia took a shutout into the ninth inning of Friday's 3-1 victory. The Marlins (46-69) are batting .214 in the season series with five extra-base hits after failing to produce one Friday.
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It may be a daunting task to get to Lackey (9-7, 2.91 ERA), whose 1.89 ERA at home ranks fifth in the NL. He threw a season-low 66 pitches before being lifted for a pinch-hitter Sunday when he gave up three runs in six innings and did not get a decision in a 5-4 loss at Milwaukee.
The Cardinals have dropped the last three starts by the right-hander, who has gone 11 straight in which he has surrendered three runs or fewer.
Lackey's lone start against the Marlins came in 2005. He may get a chance to face the batter he has seen the most in Ichiro Suzuki, a .296 hitter in 115 at-bats in this matchup.
Suzuki went 1 for 4 on Friday to give him 4,191 as a professional to match Ty Cobb, whose hit total is second in the majors to Pete Rose's 4,256. Suzuki had 1,278 hits in Japan.
Matt Carpenter is batting .368 during a 10-game hitting streak after he went 2 for 4 on Friday with a solo homer that came after his RBI bunt single gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning.
"That's just good fundamental baseball, doing the little things right in those close games when we're having trouble stacking hits on top of each other," manager Mike Matheny said.
Brad Hand (2-2, 4.29) makes his sixth start and third in a row for Miami. He moved into the rotation Aug. 4 after Dan Haren was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. Hand is 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA as a starter, allowing one run in 11 innings in his last two after giving up a run and two hits in seven to earn Sunday's 4-1 victory at Atlanta.
"He got a lot of early contact, executed pitches and I thought he utilized all his pitches," manager Dan Jennings said. "He got his fastball over, he used his slider very well and his changeup."
The left-hander's lone appearance against the Cardinals came June 24 when he gave up hits to all three batters he faced in a 6-1 loss.
Miami outfielder Christian Yelich, a .412 hitter versus St. Louis for his highest mark versus any NL club, has missed three straight games with a bruised knee and may miss the entire series.
Cole Gillespie has posted five straight multihit efforts, going 11 for 21.
Relievers Steve Cishek of St. Louis and Kyle Barraclough of Miami did not appear Friday.
Cishek was acquired from the Marlins on July 24 for fellow right-hander Barraclough, who never pitched for St. Louis and made his big-league debut with Miami on Aug. 7. Cishek had spent his entire career with the Marlins since it began in 2010.