After struggling mightily during a lengthy skid, St. Louis' hitters have heated up in a big way to start this month.
Things might get a little trickier against the hottest team in baseball.
The Cardinals open a key four-game set Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers , who hope to have their top two hitters available as they look to extend the NL's longest road winning streak in 56 years to 15.
St. Louis (65-45) batted .183 and scored 10 runs during a seven-game losing streak to end July but has changed its fortunes in August. The Cardinals have produced an incredible 44 runs and batted .340 while winning three of their last four games.
They went 10 of 18 with runners in scoring position Sunday in a 15-2 rout of Cincinnati, their most runs in a game since April 13, 2011. St. Louis had three homers among its 19 hits, and All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a two-run double in the fifth inning.
"Offensively, we did a terrific job," manager Mike Matheny said. "We had a little bit of everything - some power, some good situational hitting."
Matheny's club will face a Dodgers team that's won a franchise-record 14 consecutive road games and finished off a four-game series at Wrigley Field with a 23-inning scoreless streak with Sunday's 1-0 victory. The streak is the NL's longest since Cincinnati's 15-game run in 1957, and is just three shy of matching a 97-year old league record.
The news wasn't entirely good for Los Angeles (61-49) on Sunday. Hanley Ramirez was forced to leave in the seventh inning after jamming his right shoulder when he fell in the stands to catch a fly ball.
"I just jumped and landed on it," said Ramirez, who was wearing a sling after the game. "I'm not feeling the back of my shoulder. It's really sore and we'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Ramirez's injury came one day after rookie Yasiel Puig hurt his thumb while making a diving catch in right field. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he expected Puig to return Monday, while Ramirez is slated to have an MRI.
Puig is batting .376 with 11 homers in 53 games and Ramirez is hitting .361 in 54 games this season.
The NL West leaders have won 31 of 38 but have dropped seven of 10 to the Cardinals, who trail Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games in the NL Central. St. Louis took two of three in Los Angeles from May 24-26 in the clubs' first meeting this season.
Adam Wainwright (13-6, 2.61 ERA) will try to help the Cardinals get this series off to a winning start while looking to become the NL's first 14-game winner.
The right-hander has allowed four runs in four of his last six starts, including in a 5-4 loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He was given a trio of two-run leads, but exited after seven innings with the score tied.
Wainwright is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts against the Dodgers, the most recent on Sept. 16.
Los Angeles pitchers have given up just 11 earned runs in their last nine games, a run Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.43) will try to continue after having his scheduled Sunday start pushed back a day. The right-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.
He gave up two runs over seven innings and struck out seven before the Dodgers walked off with a 3-2 victory Tuesday against the Yankees.
Greinke is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last seven starts against the Cardinals, though he hasn't faced them since April 2012 while with Milwaukee.
Greinke has given up one run in 13 innings over his last two outings away from Chavez Ravine after posting a 6.12 ERA in his first six road starts.
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||10||.500||5||1||1||0||1||.500||1.400||.900|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|August 04, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Jammed right shoulder|
|August 03, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|July 30, 2013||Brian Wilson||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|July 23, 2013||Jose Dominguez||15-Day DL||Left quad strain|
|July 22, 2013||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|July 13, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left hip|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 31, 2013||Shane Robinson||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 31, 2013||Yadier Molina||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|July 30, 2013||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Strained right knee|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Zack Greinke made himself right at home. Just like the rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers have been doing for almost a month.
Greinke pitched into the seventh inning and raised his average to .405 with an RBI single, helping the Dodgers win their 15th straight on the road with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. This is the sixth city during the streak.
"I think we kind of thrive on an us-against-the-stadium mentality," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "It really brings out the best in ourselves."
Nick Punto was productive subbing for injured shortstop Hanley Ramirez , and the Dodgers got an RBI apiece from Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis while matching Cincinnati's 15-game run in 1957. They're two wins shy of the NL record set by the 1916 New York Giants.
"They're playing great ball obviously," losing pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "I knew that going in. I wanted to end that streak."
The Detroit Tigers own the major league record with 21 consecutive road wins from 1983-84. Seventeen of them came during their World Series championship season in '84, tying the 1916 Giants for the single-season mark, according to STATS.
Greinke (9-3) allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings for his 100th career victory, allowing two hits in the third, fourth and fifth but no runs. Paco Rodriguez earned his second career save with a perfect ninth.
Wainwright (13-7) gave up three runs in seven innings and failed in his third straight attempt at winning his 14th, working seven innings in all three of those starts. He remained tied for the league lead in wins with teammate Lance Lynn and regretted a fat pitch on Punto's double a lot more than Greinke's hit off a nasty curveball.
Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig had an RBI apiece for the Cardinals, stifled in the opener of a 10-game homestand after totaling 44 runs the previous four games. They've lost nine of 12 overall.
"We score 15 runs and he throws three runs up there in seven innings, it's a good outing," manager Mike Matheny said of Greinke. "It was just one of those days we couldn't get much going."
Matheny wasn't happy about Beltran's first sacrifice bunt of the season after the first two batters reached in the seventh.
"Sometimes we put them on, sometimes we do it on our own," Matheny said.
Punto doubled with two outs in the seventh ahead of Greinke's single that gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. His relay to the plate preserved a one-run lead in the fifth and denied David Freese of an RBI double, and he made nice defensive plays to end the seventh and eighth.
He's 6 for 13 (.462) against the Cardinals.
Matt Carpenter doubled off the right-field wall in the first inning and took third when Yasiel Puig fumbled the ball, then sprinted home on Beltran's groundout when Punto sailed a throw over catcher A.J. Ellis' head.
Running shoe-top catches by Puig in right field and Ethier in center helped Greinke strand three Cardinals in a scoreless third. St. Louis came up empty again in the fourth after opening with singles by Jon Jay and Tony Cruz , and Punto's relay in the fifth caught Allen Craig at the plate on Freese's double to right.
"It was just a perfect relay and (Ellis) did a good job tagging," Greinke said. "I thought it was a good decision to send him and everything had to be right, and it was."
The first three Dodgers reached in the fourth, with Adrian Gonzalez stopping at third on Puig's double off the right-field wall and then scoring on Ethier's broken-bat single. Puig scored the go-ahead run when Ellis beat the relay on a potential double-play ball.
Wainwright had retired eight in a row before Punto doubled to the opposite-field in left with two outs in the seventh and Greinke lofted a single that made it 3-1.
NOTES: Major league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.87) faces Cardinals fifth starter Joe Kelly (2-3, 3.10) on Tuesday. Kershaw was the NL pitcher of the month in July going 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA, while Kelly has thrown 14 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings for the Cardinals in a bid to become more than just an occasional fifth starter. ... The Dodgers are 8-1 in Greinke's last nine starts and Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in four career starts in St. Louis.