Scoring runs hasn't been a problem lately for the St. Louis Cardinals as they target a season-high fifth straight win tonight in the middle test of a three-game series against the Miami Marlins.
The Cardinals are averaging just over nine runs per game during their four- game winning streak and posted an 8-7 win in 10 innings last night at Marlins Park thanks to an RBI double by Rafael Furcal and a run-scoring single from Joe Kelly. The added run helped since the Marlins plated a run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer in the ninth to tie the game, while Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran had an RBI apiece. St. Louis rallied from a 6-1 deficit and Molina's homer highlighted a four-run ninth inning.
"Unbelievable," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the win. "Yaddy (Molina) again getting the big hit ... it was a great effort."
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook allowed two runs on six hits over six innings in the no-decision for the Cardinals, who improved to 5-2 on a nine-game road trip and are tied with Pittsburgh at two games off the lead in the NL Central. Victor Marte recorded the final two outs in the ninth to pick up the win.
Kyle Lohse will try to pitch St. Louis to a series win when he takes the mound Tuesday and is 0-1 in his last two starts. He recorded a no-decision in Thursday's 2-1 loss at Detroit and tossed seven innings of one-run ball before the bullpen blew a chance for the win. Lohse is 6-2 with a 2.85 earned run average in 15 starts.
Lohse is 4-1 in nine road starts this season and defeated the Marlins back on April 4 this season. In a 4-1 triumph at Marlins Park, Lohse allowed just one run through 7 1/3 frames. He is 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA in seven career starts in this series.
Meanwhile, the Marlins have fallen on hard times with 16 losses in their last 19 games and they are last in the NL East.
The Marlins squandered a seemingly-comfortable five-run lead and wasted a strong effort from starter Ricky Nolasco, who yielded just an unearned run and four hits over 6 2/3 innings. Chad Gaudin was slapped with the loss for surrendering the go-ahead runs in the 10th and Heath Bell did no better by permitting four runs and three hits in the ninth.
"Plain and simple this loss is on me," Bell said. "I didn't have my stuff tonight."
Jose Reyes had two hits and two RBI and John Buck went 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored in defeat. Miami ended a six-game slide with Sunday's win over Toronto.
Miami is 1-3 on a nine-game homestand and hopes Carlos Zambrano can turn the tables in the club's favor when he toes the rubber this evening. Zambrano is winless (0-2) in his previous three starts and did not figure into the decision of a 6-5 loss at Boston on Thursday, when he waked four batters and gave up three runs over five innings.
Zambrano has given up 14 runs during his winless streak and owns a 4-5 ledger in 14 starts to go along with a 4.01 ERA. The right-hander is only 1-3 in six home starts, but has fared well in his career against St. Louis from his days with the Chicago Cubs, going 12-6 with a 3.40 ERA in 31 games (28 starts).
The Cardinals and Marlins are meeting for the first time since a one-game set on April 4 that opened up Miami's brand-new Marlins Park. St. Louis spoiled the debut of the ballpark with a 4-1 win and has won seven in a row in this series.