After struggling offensively during three straight losses, the St. Louis Cardinals finally scraped out enough runs to avoid their longest skid of the season.
However, they'd still like to perform better with runners in scoring position.
They'll look to break through in those situations in Sunday's series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals (40-35) totaled 17 hits and four runs during a three-game slide, which included the first two games of this series. They managed only five hits Saturday but put together a three-run eighth inning for a 4-1 victory. Matt Adams was hitless but became the ninth player this season with two sacrifice flies in a game.
"We grinded it out," manager Mike Matheny said. "We're getting good at those close games by just staying the course."
St. Louis is still just 3 for 22 (.136) with runners in scoring position over its last four games after going 19 for 57 (.333) previously during a 7-1 stretch. The Cardinals were 0 for 6 Saturday.
After squandering a chance at a sixth straight victory, the Phillies (34-39) try to bounce back behind Kyle Kendrick (3-6, 3.97 ERA), who's seeking a third win in as many starts. He's limited his last two opponents to three runs over 13 innings after compiling a 1-3 record and 5.02 ERA over his previous six outings.
Kendrick has also issued just one walk in his last two after walking 11 over his prior three starts, spanning 19 2-3 innings.
This will be his first start of the season against the Cardinals, against whom he's 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his last three matchups.
Opponents are batting .247 against Kendrick with runners in scoring position.
St. Louis will counter with one of its top prospects in Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.19). Martinez made his second career start Tuesday against the Mets after Adam Wainwright was scratched. He allowed an unearned run and two hits along with four walks over four innings. The 59 pitches were 11 more than the right-hander had totaled over his three previous relief appearances.
Michael Wacha was originally scheduled for this start, but will have his turn in the rotation skipped due to the fatigue he's experienced lately.
"Obviously, I want to be out there every fifth day, but we have Carlos in a situation where he's able to fill in, he's already stretched out a little bit," Wacha told the team's official website.
Martinez threw a scoreless inning of relief in his lone appearance against Philadelphia on July 24.
Matt Holliday has driven in at least one run in six of his last eight games, but is just 2 for 18 against Kendrick. The .111 average is tied for his worst among the 80 pitchers he's faced at least 18 times.
Yadier Molina is 3 for 17 versus the right-hander.
Jimmy Rollins has recorded exactly one hit in 15 straight games, the longest streak by a Phillie since 1914 and the longest in the majors since Alex Gonzalez did it in 15 straight contests for the Marlins from June 11-27, 2005. Ted Sizemore's 16-game streak in 1975 for St. Louis is the longest since 1914.