The Cincinnati Reds have not played well the last two weeks, but taking two of three in St. Louis could give them the boost they need.
After rallying to even this weekend's three-game set against their division rival, the Reds try to win consecutive road games over the Cardinals for the first time in almost five years Sunday night.Plagued by a 2 hour and 10-minute rain delay Friday, Cincinnati (11-10) fell 4-2 in the series opener. The Reds trailed by a run Saturday when more rain halted play for 42 minutes, but they broke out after the delay for three runs in the eighth inning en route to a 5-3 win.Former Cardinal Miguel Cairo hit a two-out, two-run, go-ahead single off struggling St. Louis reliever Ryan Franklin to help snap the Cardinals' three-game winning streak. The Reds are now in position to win back-to-back games at Busch Stadium for the first since sweeping a three-game set June 5-7, 2006."Every win is a good win against St. Louis or against any team in the National League," said Cairo, who had two different stints with the Cardinals. "You play the game to get a win."Cincinnati likely needs to build as much momentum as possible with a key early divisional series at Milwaukee following this contest.Joey Votto added a two-run homer Saturday as the Reds improved to 6-10 since a 5-0 start. Batting .392, the reigning NL MVP has two homers and four RBIs in his last four games. He's a lifetime .328 hitter at Busch.Votto and the Reds hope to continue Jake Westbrook's struggles when he takes the ball for the Cardinals (11-10) in the series finale.For the third time in his career and first since 2001, Westbrook (1-2, 9.82 ERA) will pitch on three days' rest. The right-hander allowed seven runs in three innings of an 8-6 loss to Washington in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. He threw 68 pitches."I'm excited to get back out there again," Westbrook told the Cardinals' official website. "Every time as a starter, good or bad, you want to get back out there. You want to get back out there to try to correct yourself and get another opportunity to get back on track."Westbrook, who has 13 walks and just nine strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings this season, is 7-18 lifetime in April."It's been frustrating," he said. "It's kind of something that I need to figure out and do a better job on. I'm not going to give up on anything."Westbrook is 1-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts versus Cincinnati.Teammate Albert Pujols has six of his seven homers in his last nine games, including a solo shot Saturday. He also has 11 RBIs in his last nine contests.Veteran slugger Lance Berkman is 8 for 14 in his last four games, raising his average to .368 in his first season with St. Louis.Though right-hander Sam LeCure (0-1, 4.15) has been scheduled to start Sunday for Cincinnati, manager Dusty Baker could decide instead to go with Edinson Volquez, who wound up not starting after Friday's rain delay.Volquez is 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts this season, and 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in four lifetime versus St. Louis.LeCure allowed three runs and walked four in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-1 loss in his only previous appearance against the Cardinals on June 2. The right-hander gave up five runs and a career-high four homers in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-4 defeat to Arizona on Tuesday.