(Sports Network) - A rough stretch has both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals falling back in their respective division races. It also has the clubs looking up in the National League Wild Card standings.
One team can get on track this evening as St. Louis hosts San Francisco for the start of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals come into this set riding a season high-tying four-game slide, while the Giants have lost four of their last six.
San Francisco snapped a three-game slide on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia, but the series win by the Phillies dropped the Giants a game back of Philadelphia for the Wild Card lead. The Cardinals are two games off the pace.
Eight-plus inning of one-run ball by Jonathan Sanchez lifted the Giants on Thursday, as did a pair of RBI from rookie Buster Posey. One of those came during a three-run first inning that staked Sanchez to an early lead.
Pablo Sandoval added a homer for San Francisco, which is six games back of first-place San Diego in the NL West after losing nine of its last 15.
"For us to come away with the win and stay away from a sweep was huge," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Sanchez went out there and did a terrific job to get us the win."
The Cardinals, meanwhile, dropped a 3-2 test to Milwaukee on Wednesday and were swept in the quick two-game set. Adam Wainwright suffered his first home loss of 2010 (11-1), yielding three runs with seven strikeouts over seven innings of work.
"It's a good streak, but I'm sorry it had to end," Wainwright said. "At some point it was going to end."
Matt Holliday had an RBI double and scored a run for the Cardinals, who have also fallen 3 1/2 games behind Cincinnati, which leads the NL Central.
Though they have been held to only two runs in three of their last four games, the Cards made a move to upgrade their defense on Thursday when they acquired Pedro Feliz from the Houston Astros for a minor league pitcher.
Feliz has a career field percentage of .963 in nearly 1,000 games at third base, though he has committed eight errors there this year. However, the 35- year-old is hitting just .221 with four homers and 31 RBI in 97 games this season.
Feliz should take over third base from Felipe Lopez, who has made 10 errors at third this season. Fellow third baseman David Freese hasn't played since June 27 due to a right ankle injury.
The Cardinals hope that Feliz can have a similar impact to Jake Westbrook, who is 1-0 with a 3.32 earned run average in three starts since being acquired from the Indians. The righty picked up that first victory on Friday, when he limited the Cubs to just two runs over six innings.
"I felt good but just got a few balls in the middle of the plate," Westbrook said after that start.
Westbrook is 7-7 with a 4.48 ERA overall in 2010, and the 32-year-old faces the Giants for the first time in his career.
The Giants counter with 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner, who is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA over his last four starts since winning four in a row, and has fallen to 4-4 with a 3.27 ERA on the season.
Bumgarner hasn't factored into the decision of his last two starts, though he pitched well enough to win on Saturday versus San Diego. He gave up just a pair of runs over seven innings of his club's 3-2 victory.
The southpaw will make his first career start versus the Cardinals.
The Giants took two of three from the Cardinals at home from April 23-25 and split four games versus them in St. Louis a season ago.
3 game series vs Cardinals @ Busch Stadium
|Sat 08/21||4:15 PM PDT|
|Sun 08/22||11:15 AM PDT|