The St. Louis Cardinals have their highest win total at home in 72 years. John Lackey has been a major contributor to that success.
Lackey takes the mound for the Cardinals' home finale looking to beat the Milwaukee Brewers again Sunday ahead of a critical series that could determine the NL Central race.
St. Louis (98-57) is 55-25 at home after winning Saturday's series opener 5-1, securing the franchise's most home wins since accumulating 58 in 1943.
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Lackey (13-9, 2.74 ERA) is 11-4 with a 2.06 ERA in 21 home starts since being acquired from Boston before last year's trade deadline. All of those outings have been quality starts, giving Lackey baseball's longest streak to start a tenure with any club since 1914.
The right-hander improved to 9-4 with a 1.97 ERA in 16 starts at Busch Stadium this year after a 3-1 victory over Cincinnati on Tuesday. He yielded one run and scattered nine hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings, going at least that far for the 17th time in St. Louis.
"Arm strength, knowledge and execution have come together this year pretty well for me," Lackey said. "Been a good deal."
Lackey is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts against the Brewers (65-90) this year. He's won all three matchups - two this year - at Busch behind a 2.14 ERA.
"When he's throwing the ball well, we want him on the mound," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website.
While Matheny will want to give Lackey the ball in the postseason, the playoff-bound Cardinals prefer him to just move them closer to a division title. Their magic number to clinch the Central is five as they sit three games ahead of Pittsburgh with seven to play.
The Cardinals and Pirates open a three-game series Monday.
Matt Holliday will try to enter that series with some momentum after hitting a pair of RBI doubles Saturday. He was 1 for 8 over his first five games since returning from a strained right quadriceps that landed him on the disabled list for six weeks.
"Just a real nice stroke and the ball jumping off his bat," Matheny said. "That's the guy we want him to be."
The Cardinals have won nine of 11 against the Brewers, who have dropped 12 of their last 15 games with the rotation compiling a whopping 7.17 ERA.
Tyler Cravy (0-8, 6.21) takes the mound in St. Louis for the first time since losing his major league debut 1-0 on June 2. The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings of a spot start.
He wasn't close to being that effective at home against the Cardinals on Aug. 7, surrendering six runs in five innings of a 6-0 loss.
Cravy faces them now in his second start since returning from a right elbow injury that landed him on the disabled list for nearly three weeks. He gave up two runs and three hits while throwing 60 pitches in four innings of Tuesday's 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Adam Lind is 2 for 18 in his last seven games against the Cardinals, but the first baseman is batting .450 with six doubles in 40 at-bats versus Lackey.