With one of the best records in the majors over the past four weeks, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been quietly working their way back into the NL West race.
That momentum may stall if they don't change their fortunes against MLB's best club.
The Diamondbacks seek their fifth straight win Monday night in the opener of a four-game home series versus the St. Louis Cardinals, who have won four in a row and nine of the last 10 meetings.
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Arizona (62-61) seemed to be heading toward a lost season when it sat seven games under .500 and 2 1/2 in front of last-place Colorado following a 2-9 stretch in late July.
Since July 25, however, the Diamondbacks are tied for baseball's third-most wins at 18-10. They moved above .500 for the first time since April 22 and closed within five games of the slumping first-place Los Angeles Dodgers with Sunday's 4-0 win at Cincinnati.
"I thought I'd get a beer shower or something for (getting above .500)," manager Chip Hale said.
Hale's club has shined offensively during its winning streak, batting .322 with eight home runs and 6.5 runs per game. Welington Castillo hit his 16th homer and David Peralta added his 13th on Sunday.
Now A.J. Pollock is expected to return after resting in the finale of the four-game series. He's batting .481 in his last 11 after going 11 for 15 with four RBIs and four stolen bases against the Reds.
Arizona looks to end its struggles against St. Louis (78-45) in the opener of a seven-game homestand. The Cardinals swept a three-game home series in late May and have won seven of their last 10 at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks haven't had much success against Lance Lynn, who is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA in six starts against them. He allowed two earned runs over six innings but did not factor into the decision in a 4-3 home win May 27.
The right-hander hasn't been sharp recently, recording only two outs while giving up seven runs in a 10-5 home loss to Pittsburgh on Aug. 13. He then walked a season-high five Tuesday but yielded only two runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-0 loss to San Francisco.
Pollock went 2 for 2 when facing Lynn (9-8, 2.94 ERA) in May, while Peralta is 3 for 4 with a home run and Castillo 4 for 6 with a homer in the matchup. Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt could be out any day now as he and his wife are expecting their first child.
The Cardinals had their lead atop the NL Central trimmed during a 2-4 stretch before bouncing back with a 10-3 win at San Diego on Sunday - avoiding their first sweep of the season. Rookie Stephen Piscotty had season highs with two home runs and five RBIs.
"Every game is important, but everyone had a great game, hit the ball hard, and had a lot of energy," Piscotty said. "That's what we're going to keep going with the momentum."
The Cardinals hope to do just that as they face Robbie Ray for the first time. The left-hander allowed three runs over six innings Wednesday but didn't get any runs from the offense for the second consecutive outing in a 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh.
Ray (3-9, 3.38) has gone 0-5 with a 4.97 ERA in seven starts since his last victory at Texas on July 7.