May 19, 2014

With Stephen Piscotty playing a leading role during an offensive surge, the St. Louis Cardinals are on the verge of winning back-to-back series to open a nine-game homestand.

That run would normally seem to be in jeopardy against Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, but St. Louis was responsible for one of the right-hander's worst performances last month.

As left-hander Jaime Garcia opposes him again, the Cardinals hope to get to Greinke again Sunday when they go after their fourth win in five games in the series finale at Busch Stadium.

Piscotty went 2 for 3 with a double and Yadier Molina, Matt Adams and Jedd Gyorko homered as St. Louis (23-20) evened this series with Saturday's 6-2 victory. Piscotty has heated up with nine hits - including four doubles - and five runs scored over his last four games.

Since totaling 11 runs and hitting .197 over their previous four games, the Cardinals have turned things around offensively by averaging 8.7 runs and batting .308 in the last three.

Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz had two hits apiece and Matt Carpenter and Jeremy Hazelbaker both homered off Greinke in a 12-7 loss at Arizona on April 25. That came while the 2015 NL Cy Young candidate was 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA over his first five outings for Arizona.

However, Greinke has since pulled it together by going 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA over his last four starts. He allowed three runs over seven innings in Tuesday's 5-3 home win over the Yankees.

"He used his changeup and kept it down," manager Chip Hale told the league's official website. "It was a knockout pitch for him. He was able to get ahead with the fastball. When he knew guys were swinging he used his changeup early in the count. Slider, curveball."

Greinke (4-3, 5.08 ERA) had been dominant against the Cardinals prior to last month's meeting, going 8-2 with a 2.20 ERA over his previous 11 starts. Carpenter is 6 for 18 with two home runs and a double lifetime in the matchup, though Gyorko has just one hit in 16 career at-bats.

Garcia (3-3, 2.86) surrendered three earned runs and eight hits while opposing Greinke in April, but couldn't make it out of a nine-run sixth inning that turned the game around for Arizona. Jean Segura had three hits off Garcia, while Welington Castillo and David Peralta each added two.

Paul Goldschmidt and Nick Ahmed had four of the team's eight hits Saturday and Rickie Weeks Jr. finally got Arizona on the board with a two-run homer in the ninth inning.

"(We) got a little moment back," Hale said. ''Hopefully it will translate into a good start tomorrow, but we have to be ready to go.''

The Diamondbacks (20-25), who have dropped seven of 10, have totaled 11 runs and batted .228 in losses but have scored 28 and hit .360 in wins over the past nine.

Segura is hitting .346 in 26 career at-bats versus Garcia and newcomer Michael Bourn has gone 7 for 14. After allowing no earned runs over 14 innings in winning two consecutive starts, he gave up three and walked four over five innings in Tuesday's 3-1 home loss to Colorado.

Garcia is 5-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six career starts against the Diamondbacks.

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