The St. Louis Cardinals have one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, but they've also gotten plenty of help from their hitters during a red-hot stretch.
The Cardinals will try to keep rolling in their return from a six-game road trip Friday night by adding to their recent success against the Colorado Rockies.
St. Louis' 3.07 ERA is the best in the majors and its starters have a 2.29 ERA. The staff has played a large role in helping the Cardinals outscore opponents 41-22 while winning seven of eight.
St. Louis, though, has also batted .300 over that stretch and hit .307 during a 5-1 trip. After falling 2-1 in the first of two games against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, the Cardinals (21-12) bounced back for a 5-4 victory the next day with Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran driving in two runs apiece.
Jay is batting .500 with eight RBIs in his last six games, and Yadier Molina is hitting .457 over his last nine. They will be trying to help the Cardinals earn their 14th win in 18 tries against Colorado and 10th in 12 home matchups.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple up there," Jay said. "Trying to hit the ball hard, and I've been able to get some pitches over the plate that I've been able to drive."
Jay is batting .361 in 20 career games against Colorado, and Molina is hitting .375 in his last eight. Shelby Miller, though, might not need too much help if he can continue his stellar start to the season.
The 22-year-old Miller (4-2, 1.96 ERA) has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his six starts. The right-hander gave up one run and seven hits over six innings in a 6-1 victory in Milwaukee last Friday.
Miller has one of the NL's best ERAs and his 38 strikeouts are second among major league rookies. The Los Angeles Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu has 48.
"I'm in one of the best rotations in the league," Miller told the team's official website. "I get to be around guys who have been around for a while. (Adam Wainwright), (Jake) Westbrook, guys who've had more time. It's fun to be around guys like that."
In his first start against the Rockies, Miller will pitch opposite Jon Garland (3-2, 4.75). The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in three career games in St. Louis and 1-5 with a 5.79 ERA in six overall matchups, allowing nine runs over 11 innings in the last two.
Garland avoided a third straight loss Saturday as he gave up three runs over five innings in a 9-3 victory against Tampa Bay. He had yielded 10 runs and 18 hits in 12 innings in his previous two starts.
"He did his job, giving us a chance to win and I'm glad he ended up getting the 'W.' He fought hard for it," manager Walt Weiss told the team's official website.
Molina is 7 for 9 against Garland, his best showing versus any pitcher he's faced at least nine times. Beltran is 12 for 39 (.308) with two homers and three doubles while Jay is 0 for 3.
Colorado (19-15) lost two of three at home to the New York Yankees this week, falling 3-1 on Thursday. The Rockies were outscored 6-5 in the series and held to four hits in each of the last two matchups.
"Our pitching was outstanding. Offense was definitely subpar," Weiss said. "Not acceptable."
The Rockies have lost 11 of 17 following an eight-game win streak.
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