This weekend's three-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins doesn't look like such a mismatch anymore.
The Marlins captured last month's series between these clubs and are winners of 10 of 13 entering Friday night's opener at Busch Stadium.
Although St. Louis (50-34) is contending in second place in the NL Central and Miami (32-52) is in last place in the East, the rebuilding Marlins are playing much better baseball now than the Cardinals - losers of eight of 11.
Miami rallied to take the final two games of a three-game set in Atlanta, including Thursday's 4-3 victory. The Marlins came back from three runs down, with pinch-hitter Donovan Solano singling in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning.
"It sure feels good, and I know the guys are fired up," manager Mike Redmond said. "You've got to earn wins in this place against this team, and we earned it."
St. Louis, meanwhile, blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning in Thursday's 6-5 loss to the Angels to cap a 3-5 trip. Edward Mujica suffered his first blown save after Adam Wainwright failed to retire the lone batter he faced in the ninth.
"He's been great all year," Wainwright said. "That's what happens when you let a leadoff guy on in the last inning. That's on me, right there."
The Marlins took two of three at home from the Cardinals from June 14-16, beating Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.95 ERA) in the opener.
Westbrook was charged with five runs - three earned - over five innings in that 5-4 defeat, although he will be happy to be home for this rematch. He has allowed one unearned run and 13 hits over 22 innings at Busch Stadium this year, going 2-0 in three outings.
The right-hander was tagged for six runs over a season-low four innings Sunday in a 7-5 loss at Oakland.
He'll be opposed by a Missouri-born right-hander who grew up rooting for the Cardinals in Jacob Turner (2-0, 1.76), who has never pitched in St. Louis.
Turner scattered seven hits last Saturday in his first career complete game - a 7-1 victory over San Diego.
"I like to think it was just like any other game, but obviously, it was nice to pitch the whole game," Turner told the Marlins' official website. "At the same time, you have to go out there for your next start, throw strikes and let your defense do the work for you."
Turner gave up one run over five innings June 21, 2012, in his lone career appearance against the Cardinals in Detroit's 2-1, 10-inning victory.
Allen Craig is swinging a hot bat for St. Louis, going 13 for 29 with four homers and eight RBIs over his last eight games.
Kozma is 2 for 29 with 11 strikeouts over his last eight games.
"We really want Pete to understand that this is a move that can get him right and get him back to the player we know he can be," manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals' official website.
|June 25, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|June 09, 2013||Chris Coghlan||15-Day DL||Right calf irritation|
|June 09, 2013||Casey Kotchman||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 27, 2013||Alex Sanabia||15-Day DL||Right groin discomfort|
|May 19, 2013||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Left knee bone contusion|
|May 08, 2013||Chris Valaika||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|May 26, 2013||John Gast||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tightness|
|May 26, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|May 25, 2013||John Gast||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder tightness|
|May 21, 2013||Fernando Salas||15-Day DL||Right shoulder irritation|
|May 21, 2013||Fernando Salas||15-Day DL||Right shoulder irritation|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A fireworks display from the nearby riverfront began before closer Edward Mujica took the mound. After the final out, the St. Louis Cardinals had their own little display.
"That's crazy," Mujica said after finishing off the Miami Marlins for a 4-1 victory Friday night. "I saw the people before the inning taking pictures and everything. I'd never seen that before."
The Cardinals saw what they've seen all year from Mujica, the former setup man who capitalized on his chance with a perfect 21-for-21 start before finally blowing one on Thursday night.
"Everybody has bad days sometimes," Mujica said. "You try to get here and turn the page. I knew what I did, I made a couple mistakes, and I went right after them."
Jake Westbrook worked seven strong innings and Allen Craig had two RBIs for a lineup that spoiled Jacob Turner 's homecoming early on.
"I was able to get ahead quite a bit tonight, but I wasn't able to put a lot of guys away," Turner said. "And I think that's what hurt me."
Matt Holliday doubled twice with an RBI and Mujica rebounded for the Cardinals, who had lost eight of 11 and plummeted from the majors' best record to second place in the NL Central entering a five-game homestand.
The Marlins totaled three hits and lost for just the third time in 11 games. They flubbed a scoring chance in the fifth with an unusual double play off a sacrifice bunt attempt from Turner.
"I saw guys out, everybody was out," manager Mike Redmond said. "I thought it was a triple play."
The hard-throwing Turner (2-1), a former first-round pick from suburban St. Charles, Mo., and confidant of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny , surrendered four runs on seven hits in six innings. The 22-year-old entered with a 1.76 ERA his first six starts of the year and threw his first career complete game his last time out.
Matheny's son Tate caught Turner for a handful of games at Westminster Christian Academy before Turner was the Tigers' first-round pick in 2009. Matheny minimized his influence before the game, and afterward said knowledge of the back story wasn't a factor.
"These guys, they know what they're doing," Matheny said. "I could have watched every start he ever threw but it's different once you get in the box.
"They had a good game plan. They knew what they wanted to do."
Westbrook (5-3) was hurt only by Logan Morrison 's 440-foot homer to straightaway center leading off the second that ended the right-hander's streak of 23 innings without allowing an earned run at home to start the season. The sinkerballer got all three outs on ground balls five times and benefited from two double plays, one of them a bit unusual, and is 3-1 in his last four starts.
"Controlling counts, you have to make them swing at it down there," Westbrook said. "To do that you've got to get ahead. I was able to do that tonight."
Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the eighth before Mujica struck out two in a perfect ninth, less than 24 hours after giving up a game-tying two-run homer to the Angels' Josh Hamilton in a 6-5 loss Thursday night.
With runners on first and second and none out in the fifth, Turner was called out by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth after his sacrifice bunt attempt bounced off the plate and right to catcher Yadier Molina for a quick tagout. Molina threw to third and Adeiny Hechavarria was ruled out without a tag, then was in the dugout before the Marlins could react.
Culbreth, speaking to a pool reporter from the Associated Press, called it an "unfortunate circumstance of three or four things taking place at once." He said he ruled on a fair ball and the out "basically simultaneously," then was distracted by complaints from Marlins third base coach Joe Espada.
"In the middle of making both those calls, I think the runners, fielders and possibly even my colleagues couldn't see my actions as well," Culbreth said. "And that's what led to the confusion."
Holliday and Craig doubled with two outs in the first to nearly identical drives to right-center to put the Cardinals in front. They got RBI doubles from Holliday and Matt Adams plus a sacrifice fly from Craig in the third to make it 4-1.
Craig is near the top of the National League with 68 RBIs and entered with a league-leading .469 average with runners in scoring position.
A standing room crowd of 46,177 attracted by a Mike Shannon bobblehead giveaway gave the longtime Cardinals announcer a lengthy ovation before the seventh. Shannon left the stadium with four bobbleheads in a shopping bag.
Notes: Joe Kelly (0-3, 3.86) makes a long-delayed first appearance as the Cardinals' fifth starter since getting elevated to the rotation on June 22 on Saturday. Four starters had been enough because the Cardinals had three days off. Eovaldi (1-0, 2.00) makes his fourth start of the year for the Marlins. ... Morrison has three homers his last five games against the Cardinals. ... Adams has six RBIs his last six games. ... Hechavarria has nine hits during a five-game hitting streak.