(Sports Network) - St. Louis' bats have failed the Cardinals on more than one occasion over the club's current funk. With Chris Carpenter set to take the hill tonight versus Pittsburgh, those struggles might be forgiven tonight.
Carpenter will try to win his 11th straight decision over the Pirates when the Cardinals kick-start a three-game set versus their division rival tonight at Busch Stadium.
The 35-year-old Carpenter is 11-1 with a 2.29 earned run average in his career versus the Pirates, winning 10 decisions in a row since his lone loss to the club way back on June 29, 2004. He did not factor into the decision of his lone meeting with Pittsburgh this year, a May 7 outing in which Carpenter allowed two runs over seven innings.
The right-hander is 11-3 with a 3.09 ERA overall this year and had won two straight starts before a no-decision versus the Cubs on Sunday. Carpenter allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings of his club's extra-inning victory.
St. Louis might need its former Cy Young Award winner to be on point tonight. Since winning eight in a row from July 11-21, the Cardinals have lost five of seven and have been shut out in three of those games.
That includes yesterday's result versus the Mets. New York knuckleballer R.A. Dickey held the Cards to just four hits over 8 1/3 innings en route to handing St. Louis a 4-0 setback.
"This is different. You're not used to facing knuckleballers," said Jon Jay, who had St. Louis' lone extra-base hit with a double. "We all check out film and talk about it and stuff, but [Dickey] was on today and did a really good job."
Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus all singled for the Cardinals, who are a half-game back of Cincinnati for first place in the National League Central. Starter Blake Hawksworth went six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.
Looking to keep St. Louis' offense in check will be Jeff Karstens, who hasn't won since June 19. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.72 ERA in six starts since and has dropped each of his last three outings.
Karstens has gotten just six runs of support over his three-start slide, but allowed four runs -- two earned -- on seven hits over six innings of a 9-2 setback to the Padres on Saturday. He fell to 2-6 with a 4.72 ERA on the season.
The 27-year-old has a solid 2.25 ERA and 1-1 mark in two career starts against St. Louis, which he beat on May 8 with six shutout frames in a 2-0 triumph.
Pittsburgh failed to record a three-game sweep of Colorado on Thursday, falling 9-3 in the finale. Neil Walkerhad a two-run homer, but Bucs starter Paul Maholm gave up eight runs and 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.
"I just didn't do a good job in the fourth [inning] when they got their four runs," said Maholm. "They didn't take big swings, they just put the ball in play, got runners over and I wasn't able to make the pitches."
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen is day-to-day for Pittsburgh after getting scratched from Thursday's lineup due to a sore right shoulder. McCutchen missed six games with the ailment last week and aggravated it on Wednesday.
The Cardinals took two of three in Pittsburgh when the clubs met for the first time back from May 7-9. St. Louis won 10 of the 15 meetings a season ago.