Despite a recent tumble, the St. Louis Cardinals weren't going to let the Pittsburgh Pirates get too far ahead of them in the National League Central. After winning the series opener, the Cardinals attempt to regain sole possession of first place in the division on Saturday when they host the Pirates in the second contest of a three-game set. Jon Jay collected three hits while driving in and scoring as many runs and Yadier Molina belted a three-run homer to highlight a seven-run seventh inning as St. Louis posted a 12-8 triumph on Friday.
Winners of three of their last nine, the Cardinals collected nine extra-base hits overall and nine consecutive hits in the seventh inning to move within a half-game of Pittsburgh in the National League Central. Losers of two in a row, the Pirates would like to pick up their 82nd victory on Saturday and secure their first winning season since 1992. To do so, Pittsburgh will need Saturday starter Jeff Locke to regain his early-season form when he opposes St. Louis' Adam Wainwright.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSMW (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Jeff Locke (9-4, 3.22 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Adam Wainwright (15-9, 3.14)
Locke saw his winless stretch extend to six games on Aug. 27 when he permitting five runs in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Milwaukee. The 25-year-old was skipped in his next scheduled start and sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis to collect himself before being recalled to the majors on Tuesday. Locke struggled against St. Louis on July 31, yielding four runs on 10 hits in four innings en route to a no-decision.
Wainwright sputtered in his second straight outing after allowing six runs - including two homers - in six innings en route to a 7-2 loss to Cincinnati on Monday. The 32-year-old has been blitzed for 15 earned runs on 17 hits in his last eight innings. Wainwright owns an 8-4 career mark versus Pittsburgh, but settled for a no-decision on Aug. 13 after permitting three runs on five hits in seven innings.
1. Jay snapped a 1-for-20 slump by going 3-for-3 in the series opener.
2. Pittsburgh OF Andrew McCutchen has seven hits - including two homers - and six runs scored during his five-game hitting streak. McCutchen's one hit in four at-bats versus Wainwright left the yard.
3. St. Louis 2B Matt Carpenter collected his majors-leading 55th multi-hit contest on Friday. Carpenter is riding a seven-game hitting streak, although he is 0-for-3 versus Locke.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Pirates 2