Cardinals aim to create momentum in battle with Reds

Facing an 8 1/2-game deficit for first place in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals need to string wins together this coming week if they are to get back in the division race.

Edwin Jackson aims for a third straight win today when the Cardinals conclude a three-game series vs. Cincinnati. The right-hander, who was acquired via trade on July 27, has posted a 4-2 mark with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts for the Cardinals. That includes a 3-0 record with a 2.22 ERA in his four starts as a member of the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

By facing the Reds, Jackson will have pitched against every major league team over his nine-year career except for the Mets. He is 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA in seven starts against NL Central teams this year. A win today will also pull his career mark even, as he's currently 59-60.

After today's game the Cardinals welcome the first-place Brewers to Busch Stadium for three contests. Sweeping that series is crucial, considering St. Louis won't play Milwaukee the rest of the season after that set.

Bronson Arroyo, who has just one win in his last 11 starts (1-5), gets the ball this afternoon for the Reds. The right-hander, who has given up a major league-most 36 homers this year, allowed two long balls in a 9-0 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday. Arroyo was charged with eight hits and five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings.

Over his career, Arroyo has struggled when facing the Cardinals, as evidenced by a 7-12 record and 4.69 ERA in 30 games (28 starts).

Yesterday, Jaime Garcia pitched six solid innings to lead the Cardinals to a 6-4 win.

Garcia (11-7) gave up two runs -- one earned -- and scattered seven hits while fanning six and walking only one batter. After the Cardinals bullpen faltered slightly, Jason Motte recorded the final five outs to earn his second save.

"He fell behind early in the game, giving up back-to-back runs, but other than that, he made an adjustment and was able to get ahead of hitters," Laird said of his batterymate. "From the third inning on he was getting ahead of guys, getting 0-1 counts instead of 1-0 counts and mixing it up."

"He was changing speeds, throwing his fastball and changeup for strike," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Garcia's performance. "He was bouncing his breaking ball early and we were going for the bounce."

Gerald Laird hit an RBI single, Jon Jay doubled and tripled, and Albert Pujols added an RBI single among his two hits for the Cardinals, who got back on the winning track after dropping Friday's opener.

Homer Bailey (7-7) lasted only three innings in defeat, giving up five runs -- four earned -- on six hits while striking out three and walking one.

Jay Bruce cracked a two-run homer and Edgar Renteria chipped in three hits and an RBI for the Reds, losers in five of their last six games.

The Reds have won eight of 14 meetings with St. Louis this season.