Preview: Pirates at Cardinals

While most of the country was enjoying Labor Day weekend, opposing pitchers have been working overtime to no avail in order to stop Matt Holliday. The six-time All-Star looks to extend his torrid spell Tuesday as the St. Louis Cardinals continue their three-game home set against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Holliday has caught fire during the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak, going 7-for-11 with three homers and 12 RBIs against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh.

The four-time Silver Slugger has also reached base 10 times and St. Louis has exploded for 27 runs over that span, following a four-game slide in which the Cardinals scored a total of six times. Monday’s win gave St. Louis its first lead in the National League Central this season and also dealt a blow to the Pirates, who fell three games off the pace in the division and are two games behind Milwaukee for the second wild card. Pittsburgh has struggled to sustain offense of late after jumping out to early leads, scoring eight of its nine runs in the first two innings over the last three games.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Jeff Locke (6-3, 3.51 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Adam Wainwright (15-9, 2.59)

Locke went 4-0 with a 2.90 ERA in five August starts – after going 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA last August – and concluded his brilliant month by holding the Cardinals to one run on six hits over 7 1/3 innings in a win Wednesday. The 2013 All-Star has been a bit prone to serving up homers since the All-Star break, giving up 10 in eight post-break outings after surrendering three in the same number of pre-break efforts. Locke is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three all-time starts against the Cardinals.

After going 15-4 in Wainwright’s 19 turns before the Midsummer Classic, the Cardinals fell to 3-5 in his starts since following a 3-1 setback in his head-to-head battle with Locke on Wednesday. The three-time All-Star recently admitted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is “going through a dead-arm phase,” which can be supported by his 2-4 record and 5.17 ERA in six August outings. Wainwright has performed adequately in 25 career appearances (21 starts) against the Pirates, going 10-5 with a 4.18 ERA.


1. Holliday has produced a major league-high 21 game-winning RBIs this season, including one in each of the St. Louis’ last two wins.

2. Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez (left foot sprain) remains day-to-day after missing his fifth consecutive game in the opener.

3. Cardinals SS Jhonny Peralta is three hits shy of 1,500 for his career.

PREDICTION: Pirates 3, Cardinals 2