After scoring at a remarkable rate for a week, the St. Louis Cardinals suddenly fell silent in their last game.
They could again have some trouble against a pitcher that has routinely given them problems.
The Cardinals try to bounce back against John Lannan in the opener of a three-game series with the visiting Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals got off to a sluggish start, averaging 2.6 runs while batting .216 in losing six of their first eight. The offense suddenly awoke, averaging 9.4 runs and hitting .376 as St. Louis won six of the next seven.
That surge ended Sunday, when St. Louis (8-8) managed a season-low four hits in having its four-game win streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to Los Angeles. Matt Holliday scored the lone run and hit .563 with five doubles, five RBIs and five runs in the four-game series.
"It is a tough loss, but any time we win a series, it is a good thing," manager Tony La Russa said.
Albert Pujols was hitless in four at_bats Sunday after batting .435 with three homers and six RBIs in his previous five games, and he may also have trouble at the plate Tuesday.
The three-time NL MVP is batting .182 with no extra-base hits in 11 at_bats against Lannan (1-1, 3.38 ERA).
Lannan has a career ERA of 4.08 but has posted a 2.36 ERA in five starts against St. Louis, surrendering two runs or fewer each time. The left-hander has been backed by seven runs in those games, however, leaving him with a 1-2 record.
The Cardinals are hitting .220 and Pujols is 2 for 12 against left-handers this season.
Lannan gave up three runs and six hits in six innings in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia, and he's yielded three runs or fewer in each of his three starts.
The Nationals split their six games against the Cardinals in 2010 after going 2-11 over the previous two seasons.
Washington (8-7) arrives in St. Louis after sweeping a doubleheader from Milwaukee on Sunday to take all three games in the series.
The Nationals had 11 hits in each game Sunday, winning 8-4 and 5-1. They finished with five homers in the doubleheader after hitting two in their previous five contests.
"It was great to get this sweep," said leadoff hitter Danny Espinosa, who had six RBIs in the doubleheader. "After we got the first game, we knew in here, we were talking, 'We need to get that sweep. We need this game.' And we went out there and played hard."
Although the offense got on track, Jayson Werth is still off to a slow start with his new team, batting .143 with a solo homer in his last seven games.
Werth could get going at Busch Stadium, where he is hitting .364 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last six games. He has a homer and double in his only two at_bats against scheduled starter Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63).
Westbrook had a another shaky performance Wednesday against Arizona, allowing five runs - two earned - and a season-high nine hits in 5 1-3 innings but was bailed out in a 15-5 win.
In two starts against the Nationals, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved