The Los Angeles Dodgers got their season on track by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game home series at the end of April.
The Dodgers were 13-13 before their first encounter with the Cardinals. They have gone 15-3 since then to race into the National League West lead.
Now they will try to continue their surge during a four-game series in St. Louis that begins Thursday night.
The Cardinals remain in the NL Central cellar despite winning eight of their last 10 games. They come into the Dodgers series after winning two of three games from the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
“Two out of three, win series, that’s kind of our M.O., that’s what we want to do,” said Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong, who homered in a 3-0 win on Wednesday. “It’s tough to sweep a team. For us, it’s about trying to grind out these kind of tweener games, those are the ones we want to win.”
Los Angeles will start Julio Urias (5-3, 3.61 ERA) in the series opener. He is 2-0 with 17 strikeouts, just two walks and a 2.29 ERA in three May starts.
Urias earned a 4-2 victory over San Diego on Saturday in his latest start, holding the Padres to three hits and two runs in seven innings.
Of the 22 runs he has allowed this season, opponents scored nine in the first inning (9.72 ERA). Against the Padres, he allowed Juan Soto’s opening-inning solo homer, then settled in.
“First inning, I’ve had some issues and I know it,” Urias told MLB.com after Saturday’s game. “Today was only one run and I tried to limit the damage there. That’s what I’ve been working on, and then I just talk to the pitching coaches to see what the plan is for the next couple of innings.”
He has pitched just one inning against the Cardinals in his career, a scoreless frame in 2018.
The Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3 on Wednesday to secure their sixth straight series victory. Rookie outfielder James Outman hit a decisive grand slam in the seventh inning.
The homer was just the second for Outman in May after he hit one in March and six in April. He was hitless with six strikeouts in 12 at-bats over the previous five games before Wednesday.
“He’s trying to figure it out, trying to learn the league,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They’re trying to learn him, they’re making adjustments. … It’s not linear. You’ve got to keep making adjustments as the league makes adjustments on you.”
The Cardinals moved Adam Wainwright back a day in the rotation after promoting left-hander Matthew Liberatore from Triple-A Memphis to start Wednesday against the Brewers.
Wainwright (0-0, 7.20) will face the Dodgers on Thursday in his third start of the season after recovering from a groin muscle strain sustained while training with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.
He has allowed four runs while lasting five innings in each of his starts after coming off of the injured list. The Cardinals won his last outing 8-6 in Boston on Friday.
Wainwright is 7-6 with a 2.79 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Dodgers, including 16 starts.
The Cardinals placed outfielder Dylan Carlson (sprained left ankle) on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday and promoted outfielder Oscar Mercado from Triple-A Memphis. Mercado appeared as a defensive replacement in the series-ending win over the Brewers.
–Field Level Media