After losing five of six and seeing their lead in the race for the second National League Wild Card berth dwindle, the Cardinals will rely on righty Kyle Lohse to right the ship Wednesday against the Padres.
Lohse has been nothing short of stellar, winning eight straight decisions to improve to 14-2 on the season. While his ERA of 2.81 has been impressive, he has a 2.65 ERA since his last loss on June 15. He has been a model of consistency in a St. Louis rotation that has been otherwise shaky of late.
Lohse could be the one to key a turnaround, not just for the Cardinals, but for the rest of the rotation.
"This starting staff has been very good," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's not a situation where they've been intimidated by the pressure. They've proven that they're not. It's just one of those strings that you can't really put your hands around."
While the Cardinals are trying to get back on track, the Padres will try to give lefty Clayton Richard a win on his birthday as they go for the three-game sweep. Doing so shouldn't be too difficult, as San Diego has come away with a win in each of Richard's last four outings.
Overall, the southpaw, who turns 29 on Wednesday, has earned the win in five of his last seven starts, six of his last 10 and 10 of his last 17. Since June 12, he is 10-5 with a 3.27 ERA, and the Padres are 11-6 in those games.
Like Lohse for the Cardinals, Richard has been a workhorse for the Padres. He leads the team with 17 quality starts and has 14 in his last 22 appearances. His 195 innings rank third-most in the NL and seventh-most in the Majors this season.
"He prides himself on his endurance, his stamina and his conditioning," Padres manager Bud Black said of Richard after a recent start.
Cardinals: Garcia still scheduled for next start
Despite another shaky outing on the road, lefty Jaime Garcia is still in line to make his next start in Los Angeles against the Dodgers in what should be a pivotal game in the NL Wild Card hunt.
Garcia lasted just three innings Monday and gave up four runs as his road ERA on the season inflated to 6.19. In comparison, he had a 2.63 ERA at Busch Stadium. That discrepancy is particularly troublesome given his next three scheduled starts are on the road.
General manager John Mozeliak said the team has not yet made changes to the rotation to account for Garcia's road woes.
"In terms of body language, he just seems to be a little bit more fidgety or nervous at times when he's on the road," Mozeliak said. "We try to consider all the different angles, and we need to try to put him in a position where he feels he can be successful."
Padres: Street to throw simulated game
Closer Huston Street will throw his second simulated game in three days on Wednesday before the team's series finale against the Cardinals. Street, who has been sidelined with a strained left calf since Aug. 11, threw to many of his own hitters on Monday and was able to use all of his pitches.
He wasn't able to run on the calf Monday, and the All-Star closer still needs to do so before the Padres training staff considers reinstating him from the disabled list. It is likely he will run on Wednesday. A decision on Street's next step will likely come Thursday on the team's off-day, according Black.
Padres right fielder Will Venable is 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI in his career against Lohse.