National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, August 17th
(All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (65-53) at St. Louis Cardinals (64-54), 8:15 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - James McDonald (10-5, 3.77)
St. Louis - Jake Westbrook (12-8, 3.62)
(Sports Network) - The fight for a National League wild card playoff berth
moves to Busch Stadium this weekend, where the St. Louis Cardinals and
Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series tonight.
The Pirates enter the set holding a one-game edge over the Cardinals for the
second of the NL's two wild card slots. St. Louis trails Pittsburgh by a
single game and is five games behind Atlanta, which holds the No. 1 spot.
The Pirates and Cardinals are six and seven games, respectively, behind the
Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race. Pittsburgh gained a game with
a win Thursday against Los Angeles, while the Reds were beaten by the New York
St. Louis missed a chance to advance with a loss to Arizona.
California-born right-hander James McDonald takes the mound for the Pirates
while making a fifth try at an 11th victory of 2012.
The 27-year-old improved to 10-3 with a 9-6 win at Colorado on July 18, but
has since gone 0-2 in four starts while his earned run average has soared from
2.93 to 3.77.
He's pitching on an extra day's rest after manager Clint Hurdle moved red-hot
veteran A.J. Burnett into his slot for the finale of the series against the
Dodgers and pushed McDonald back to face St. Louis.
A nine-game winner in 31 starts last season, McDonald is 1-2 with an 8.71 ERA
since the All-Star break after going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 17 starts in the
He's 2-1 in eight career meetings - four starts - with St. Louis.
The Cardinals reply with veteran Jake Westbrook, who's won five straight
starts to equal last season's win total.
Now 34 years old, Westbrook won 12 times in 33 starts with the Cardinals in
2011 - the first time he'd won a dozen games in a season since 2006 with
He earned his first career victory in his 11th career game against the Pirates
on July 1, when he scattered nine hits and four runs over six innings of a 5-4
Overall against Pittsburgh, he's 1-5 with a 5.18 ERA in 48 2/3 innings.
On Thursday in Pittsburgh, Garrett Jones clubbed a pair of three-run home runs
to power the Pirates past the Dodgers, 10-6.
Clint Barmes knocked in three runs and Pedro Alvarez added a solo shot among
his three hits, as Pittsburgh salvaged the finale of a four-game set and
snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Dodgers.
A.J. Burnett (15-4) allowed six runs on seven hits and one walk while striking
out seven over 6 2/3 innings to earn the victory, becoming Pittsburgh's first
15-game winner since Todd Ritchie went 15-9 back in 1999.
"He was laying it all out there," Hurdle said. "It was gritty all over the
place (Thursday) for us."
In St. Louis, back-to-back homers by Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young on
consecutive pitches in the top of the ninth inning lifted Arizona to a 2-1 win
over the Cardinals in the finale of a three-game set.
After Jason Motte (4-4) struck out Miguel Montero to begin the frame,
Goldschmidt smacked a long ball into the left-center field seats and Young
followed with a blast to left.
Allen Craig tallied an RBI single in the fifth frame to account for the
Cardinals' lone run.
Starter Kyle Lohse, looking to extend his winning streak to seven games,
fanned five and allowed four hits and three walks over 6 2/3 scoreless frames.
St. Louis won five of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, but the
Pirates won two of three in the most recent series from June 29-July 1 at
The Cardinals won last year's season series, 9-7, while Pittsburgh last won in
08/17 10:54:12 ET