Allen Craig has been a pitcher's nightmare of late.
The left fielder will look to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 10th win in 13 games as they host the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
The NL Central leaders have been bolstered by an offense that has batted .289 with 31 doubles in the previous 12 games.
No one has been hotter for St. Louis (60-37) than Craig, who is batting .424 since June 29. All four of his plate appearances were productive on Tuesday - he had an RBI fielder's choice, a double, a walk and an RBI single in St. Louis' 4-1 victory over Philadelphia.
"I put the ball in play, had a couple of good at bats, and was able to get the job done," Craig said.
Craig is hitting a major league-best .490 (47 for 96) with runners in scoring position."He's done some impressive things, he's definitely for real," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "People are starting to notice."
He's had two eight-game and one nine-game hitting streaks since June 18 to raise his batting average from .309 to .335.
Craig will look to hit in his ninth straight game against a pitcher who has been equally hot in Philadelphia's John Lannan . Lannan (2-3, 3.76 ERA) has lasted eight innings in two straight starts, posting a 0.56 ERA in that stretch.
On July 13, the left-hander yielded one run and four hits in eight innings of a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Lannan hasn't faced the Cardinals since 2011, but he has fared well against them. The left-hander has held the Cardinals to two runs or fewer in all seven starts against them.
The Phillies (49-51), who have scored just five runs during their three-game losing streak, are 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position during their slump. They have 10 home runs in 13 games since slugger Ryan Howard went on the disabled list with left knee inflammation.
Domonic Brown , who went 0 for 4 on Tuesday and is 5 for his last 31 (.161), is out for this game while being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms. John Mayberry , who had just seven July at-bats through July 12, is batting .219 this month, though he had an RBI double to account for the lone run Tuesday.
That's the type of weak lineup Jake Westbrook (6-4, 2.88) has feasted on. Eleven of the right-hander's 13 starts have come against teams in the lower half of the league in runs scored. Since allowing a season-worst six runs and 10 hits at Oakland, he has posted a 2.66 ERA against the Miami Marlins , the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres .
On Friday, he continued the trend, holding the Padres to two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-6 win.
He also went 3 for 3 at the plate with a double.
"I had a lot of fun out there," said Westbrook, who entered the game 2 for 20, to the team's official site. "It was the first time I had run the bases that much since high school."
"They take their at-bats seriously," Matheny said. "They put a lot of pride in them. It's frustrating to them. They don't get enough repetitions to consistently be able to do what they want to do."
The Phillies could be a tougher challenge for Westbrook - on the mound, that is. Jimmy Rollins (.444), Michael Young (.379), Laynce Nix (.364) and Chase Utley (.364) have all had success against the right-hander.
Utley, who had three hits on Tuesday, is batting .400 over his six-game hitting streak.
|July 22, 2013||Joe Savery||15-Day DL||Left elbow stiffness|
|July 14, 2013||Ben Revere||15-Day DL||Broken right foot - out 6-8 weeks|
|July 13, 2013||Ben Revere||Day-to-Day||Broken right foot|
|July 06, 2013||Ryan Howard||15-Day DL||Left knee inflammation|
|June 24, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|June 23, 2013||Michael Stutes||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 11, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|May 26, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|May 26, 2013||John Gast||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tightness|
|May 25, 2013||John Gast||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder tightness|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies thought it was unnecessary to hold this runner on first base. Then Jake Westbrook took off.
For the second straight game, Westbrook gave the St. Louis Cardinals an all-around effort, working seven solid innings and contributing his second career steal in a key spot of an 11-3 victory on Wednesday night.
"No, it wasn't on my own," Westbrook said. "They were playing behind me so I got a decent jump and it worked out. It's always fun when you're on the bases, it makes you feel like you're doing something."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said rookie first baseman Darin Ruf was too far off the bag.
"You just don't back up and let him see where you're at, you kind of stay back and let him feel you or let him see you, then you move slowly back" Manuel said. "He got a lead and a running jump and he took off.
"It was a heads-up play on his part and the first base coach's part, but at same time that was a mistake."
Westbrook (7-4) entered with a career .133 average that's enhanced by his first career three-hit game in the Cardinals' first game after the All-Star break. He helped knock out John Lannan (2-4) when he drew a two-out walk in the fourth, stole second and scored on Carpenter's single for a 4-0 lead.
Matt Adams had two hits and three RBIs and Shane Robinson 's three-run triple in the fifth was his third hit of the game for the Cardinals, who are 4-1 since the All-Star break and lead the majors with a 61-37 record. They scored in four straight innings, totaling nine runs on 12 of their 16 hits from the second through fifth.
Allen Craig had two hits and a walk to give him 16 hits during a nine-game hitting streak. He's second in the league in hitting at .337 behind teammate Yadier Molina , who had three hits and an RBI and is batting .339.
John Mayberry had two hits and an RBI for the Phillies, who were without top run producer Domonic Brown and have lost four in a row. Brown is being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms and the team expects to know Thursday whether he'll be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Right fielder Delmon Young threw out a runner at the plate in the second to thwart a sacrifice fly bid.
"It's kind of an ugly game not to get an error on the board," Manuel said. "It seemed like everything we did wasn't good."
Westbrook is 2 for 2 in his career on steals, getting his first last season, although he noted the first one came with runners on first and third and his steal of second came without a throw.
"My focus is completely on Carpenter," Lannan said. "I had two strikes so I was more focused on executing my pitch. If he didn't steal, who would have known what would happen?"
Westbrook has scored four runs this year, matching his total from the last two seasons combined, but didn't want to get too carried away.
"I'm a pitcher, that's what I do," Westbrook said. "I was able to throw the ball pretty well and give us a chance."
After retiring the side in order in the first, Lannan surrendered eight hits and two walks the next three innings. The biggest hit was Adams' two-run single on an 0-2 count with the bases loaded in the second.
"I try to see the ball as long as I can and just battle," Adams said. "I just dial in my focus more."
Lannan worked eight innings and allowed a run each of his two previous starts. He was pitching on 10 days' rest.
The Phillies were held to one hit before bunching three singles the first four at-bats of the fifth, with Carlos Ruiz getting the RBI, but pinch hitter John McDonald grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Robinson's bases-clearing triple capped a five-run fifth against rookie J.C. Ramirez that broke the game open. Robinson's sinking liner bounced in front of and then over diving center fielder Mayberry and the Cardinals also had three doubles in the inning with Adams and David Freese getting RBIs.
Manuel said Mayberry has "got to keep the ball in front of him."
"He can't dive," the manager added. "I talked to him about it, but he knows."
Brock Peterson got his first career hit on an RBI single in two-run eighth for St. Louis.
NOTES: Lance Lynn (11-5, 4.13) has lost consecutive starts while giving up 10 runs on 17 hits in 9 1-3 innings entering the finale against Kyle Kendrick (9-6, 3.94). Kendrick is 5-1 with a 2.72 career ERA against St. Louis. ... The Cardinals scored on a pair of softly-hit balls in the third, Carpenter's leadoff infield hit and Molina's two-out bloop RBI single. ... A sellout crowd of 44,317 was the 18th sellout and put the Cardinals over 2 million attendance for the 18th straight season. ... Tony Cruz had an infield hit in the eighth in his first appearance since the break for St. Louis.