The St. Louis Cardinals are trying to capitalize on a stretch against struggling opponents in hopes of tightening the NL Central race.
Improvement from the rotation will likely be key.
The Cardinals look to avoid their fourth loss in six games while handing the Colorado Rockies a 17th straight defeat in Sunday games.
St. Louis (64-56) is second in the Central, five games back of first-place Milwaukee with six meetings remaining in the season series.
The Cardinals could close that gap by taking advantage of this 16-game span that pits them against teams with losing records before visiting the Brewers for three games later this month.
St. Louis, though, has split the first two of the stretch, falling 6-1 to Colorado (56-65) on Saturday after winning by the same score a night earlier. The Cardinals, though, might feel good about their chances in the series finale considering Colorado has lost all 16 games it has played on Sunday since winning its first two.
The Rockies have been limited to eight runs over their past five Sunday games, a trend which could bode well for a St. Louis rotation which has been inconsistent of late. Cardinals starters have a 4.79 ERA over the past 13 games, walking 34 and striking out 54.
"I think the most important thing is if we can get our rotation cranking, that would be the single best thing that could happen to this club as far as running off some wins and staying in contention," manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals' official website.
Turning to Edwin Jackson (1-1, 4.95 ERA) against the Rockies, however, wouldn't appear to be the ideal way to do that.
The right-hander has a 17.28 ERA in five starts versus Colorado, nearly doubling his second-highest ERA against any other opponent. He's 0-2 in that span, lasting an average of just 3 1-3 innings.
Jackson's last meeting with the Rockies was perhaps the worst performance of his career, as he allowed a personal-high 10 earned runs and 11 hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 12-1 loss with Arizona on April 27, 2010.
He also was tagged for 10 runs - eight earned - and 14 hits in seven innings of a 10-5 loss at Milwaukee on Aug. 3 in his second start after being acquired by St. Louis, but was much better six days later in a 5-3, 10-inning win over the Brewers. Jackson allowed three runs - two earned - in six innings.
Jackson now looks to cool off Carlos Gonzalez, who has three hits with two homers and five RBIs in this series. Gonzalez is recovering from of a wrist injury that landed him on the disabled list last month.
"I'm getting better, but I still have a lot to work on," he said. "I've only been playing for a week. I'm really excited because things are going to get better."
He's doubled and tripled in his two at_bats versus Jackson.
The Rockies turn to Esmil Rogers (6-1, 5.85), who has won three straight outings while posting a 2.16 ERA.
He yielded two runs and struck out six in six innings of a 3-2 win at Cincinnati on Tuesday.
"I just want them to give me the opportunity to pitch," Rogers said. "I know I can do it. I'm not thinking about it. I'm just trying to make my pitches."
Rogers is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two games - one start - against the Cardinals.
The Associated Press News Service
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