National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, August 28th
(All times Eastern)
St. Louis Cardinals (71-57) at Pittsburgh Pirates (68-60), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: St. Louis - Jake Westbrook (13-9, 3.67)
Pittsburgh - James McDonald (11-6, 3.73)
(Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald followed up one
his better starts this year -- a win over the St. Louis Cardinals -- with a
forgettable beginning to his most recent outing.
McDonald tries to get off on a better foot on Tuesday evening and get the
Pirates back on track as they to avoid falling further behind the Cardinals in
The right-handed McDonald gets the call for the second contest of this three-
game set between NL Central rivals having beaten the Cardinals back on Aug.
17. However, it is the only win for the Pirates hurler in his last six starts.
McDonald logged six scoreless innings in the win over St. Louis, scattering
two hits and walking three with seven strikeouts to claim a 2-1 decision.
After reliever Chris Resop allowed a run and two hits in two-thirds of an
inning, Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan combined to toss 2 1/3
The 27-year-old struggled in his last outing on Wednesday against the San
Diego Padres, giving up four runs on five hits and five walks with only two
strikeouts in five innings. Three of the runs McDonald allowed came in the
first, when he walked the bases loaded.
"I felt like I was getting better as the game went on," said McDonald. "I was
able to get my breaking ball down, my fastball was going where I wanted it to.
Just a rough beginning but I felt like I ended strong."
McDonald is still a solid 11-6 with a 3.73 earned run average in 25 games this
season and 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in nine career meetings with the Cardinals,
including five starts.
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook took a tough-luck loss when he squared off
against McDonald, then saw his offense bail him out in a victory last week.
Against the Pirates, Westbrook had a five-start winning streak end even though
he gave up just two runs -- one earned -- over 7 2/3 frames.
The righty quickly returned to the win column on Thursday against the Houston
Astros despite yielding five runs over five innings. He got plenty of support
in a 13-5 win.
Westbrook, 34, improved to 13-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 25 starts this season, but
sits at just 1-6 lifetime versus the Pirates in 12 meetings (8 starts).
The Cardinals took the opener of the set on Monday by a 4-3 margin, with Matt
Holliday hitting a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth inning.
"I like opposite-field home runs. It means my swing is in a good spot,"
Holliday said after driving in his NL high-tying 90th run of the season.
The Cardinals have now won six of seven since losing a 19-inning game to the
Pirates on Aug. 19. That has them six games behind the Cincinnati Reds for
first place in the NL Central and 2 1/2 games up on the Los Angeles Dodgers
for the league's second wild card position.
The Pirates, meanwhile, have lost six of seven since their marathon win and
are three games back of the Cardinals.
A.J. Burnett suffered Monday's loss after allowing four runs -- three earned
-- on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"I wasn't able to have shutdown innings," Burnett said.
Andrew McCutchen drove in a run for the Pirates, who were without second
baseman Neil Walker after he was a late scratch due to lower back tightness.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, could have third baseman David Freese back in the
lineup tonight for the first time since he hurt his left wrist on Friday.
The Pirates and Cardinals split 12 meetings this season prior to this series.
08/28 10:41:41 ET