Red-hot Cardinals vie for sweep of fading Padres

MLB

The streaking St. Louis Cardinals will look to improve their playoff hopes on Sunday when they bid for a sweep of the visiting San Diego Padres.

The Cardinals extended their winning streak to seven games with an 8-2 victory over the Padres on Friday and a 3-2 triumph on Saturday.

Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning on Saturday, the Cardinals rallied on a two-run homer from Tyler O’Neill. That capped an emotionally charged evening that began with a tribute to the Cardinals’ 2011 world championship team.

“That was special,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “The night had magic to it before the game even started.”

This surge allowed the Cardinals (78-69) to move two games up on the Cincinnati Reds and 2 1/2 games over the Padres (76-72) and Philadelphia Phillies in the race for the second wild card in the National League.

The Cardinals have won nine of their past 10 to move nine games over .500 for the first time this season. Meanwhile, the Padres have lost seven of their past nine games.

“We just need to flip the page,” Padres pitcher Yu Darvish said through a translator. “We have a game (Sunday). We have to prepare in a way to win (Sunday).

The Cardinals will hand the ball to J.A. Happ (9-8, 6.00 ERA) in the series finale.

Happ scattered two hits over 5 1/3 innings in his previous start, a 2-0 victory versus Cincinnati last Sunday. That was a big improvement over his Sept. 1 start against the Reds, when he allowed seven runs and retired just three batters.

“You have an outing like that and you want to do anything to get it back and to try to rewind that and start that thing over again,” Happ said. “That’s the nature of the beast that we play, and you got to get over it.”

Happ is 4-2 with a 4.08 ERA in eight starts for the Cardinals after arriving in a trade with the Minnesota Twins.

He has not faced the Padres this season. Happ is 2-2 with a 2.15 ERA in five career appearances against San Diego, including four starts.

Eric Hosmer (1-for-12), Wil Myers (1-for-9), Adam Frazier (0-for-5) and Jake Marisnick (4-for-20, seven strikeouts) have struggled against Happ.

The Padres on Sunday will start right-hander Jake Arrieta (5-13, 7.05), who is 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA in three starts since joining the team after his release from the Chicago Cubs.

Arrieta has not faced the Cardinals this season. He is 8-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 career starts against them.

He has had success against Matt Carpenter (3-for-36, 10 strikeouts), Paul Goldschmidt (4-for-23) and Nolan Arenado (3-for-14).

Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth returned to the starting lineup Saturday after recovering from a broken finger and went 1-for-4. He started at first base after coming off the bench Friday.

“You know what you are going to get with Jake,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “You are going to get a great at-bat every time, you’re going a get a guy that battles, barrels balls up, lays off pitches outside the zone.”

–Field Level Media

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