MLB

Cardinals take playoff push to Fenway against red-hot Red Sox

BOSTON -- Hoping for better results this time around, manager Mike Matheny brings his sizzling St. Louis Cardinals to Fenway Park for a two-game interleague series with the Boston Red Sox that starts Tuesday night.

"I played a lot of games there as a player. I always enjoy going to Fenway," Mathenysaid Sunday. "Unfortunately, I have some bad memories from the postseason as a player and as a manager, but no better time to change that than now."

Matheny was a Cardinals catcher when his 2004 team was swept by the Red Sox in the World Series, ending Boston's 86-year title drought. He was later the manager when the Cards fell to the Red Sox in six games in 2013, Boston's third title in 10 seasons.

Fast-forward to Tuesday and the battle between two of the hottest teams in baseball.

"We went in there earlier in the year, and they were coming off a hot streak, we end up taking two," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But they're coming in here in similar fashion where they're swinging the bat well. They're scoring a high number of runs. So we'll be able to see that (Tuesday)."

Boston's Rick Porcello, who has won his past two starts after failing to win for over a month, faces the Cardinals' Mike Leake in the series opener.

"I'm really excited," St. Louis outfielder Randal Grichuk said. "There's been a few stadiums that I have really wanted to play at, and (Fenway is) one of them. We're coming down to the stretch, and we've got less than two months, a month and a half. … It's going to be fun."

The Cardinals, given up for dead by many after falling to 53-56 on Aug. 4, had an eight-game winning streak stopped by the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. St. Louis (61-57) comes to Boston 1 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central.

The Red Sox (67-51) had an eight-game winning streak of their own from July 31 to Wednesday, and they have won 10 of their past 12. After losing a makeup game to the Cleveland Indians 7-3 Monday night, their lead in the American League East is 4 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

Porcello faced the Cardinals in one of those May games, allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings ina no-decision. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fell to 4-14 before winning his past two starts. He has a 4.63 ERA and is better than his 6-14 record suggests, but he is still 6-14.

In three career starts against St. Louis, Porcello is 1-1 with 3.38 ERA.

Leake has failed to win in his last three starts, falling to 7-10 but with a respectable 3.48 ERA. He yielded 19 hits and seven earned runs in 11 innings over his last two outings.

Leake is 0-1 with 4.26 ERA in three career starts against Boston. In his only start against the Red Sox this season, he allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings ina no-decision.

Porcello is 17-8 lifetime in interleague play, while Leake is just 6-10.

Dexter Fowler in 3-for-7 (.429) and Yadier Molina 3-for-9 (.333) lifetime against Porcello. Hanley Ramirez has gone 4-for-10 (.400) with a homer, Jackie Bradley Jr. 3-for-8 (.375) with a home run and Xander Bogaerts 2-for-6 (.333) against Leake.

The two-game series features some of the bright and hot young hitters in the game -- Red Sox rookies Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, and the Cardinals' Paul DeJong.

"You look at what DeJong is doing at shortstop, a guy that wasn't there in May, and all of a sudden, here he is approaching 20 home runs already," Farrell said.