Cardinals aim to trip up Giants in series finale

MLB

The host St. Louis Cardinals will vie for their second consecutive series win against the San Francisco Giants this season when the teams face off on Sunday afternoon.

The Cardinals, who took two of three in San Francisco on July 5-7, answered a 7-2 loss in the series opener on Friday with a 3-1 victory the following night.

In Saturday’s victory, the Cardinals were fueled offensively by home runs from Tyler O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt as well as another strong starting effort from Kwang Hyun Kim.

“Pitching picked us up, KK did a great job and the bullpen picked us up,” Goldschmidt said. “Three runs were enough. … We want to win every game and we’ll try to do it again (Sunday). We’ll see what happens.”

Closer Alex Reyes got his 21st save of the season. He is 23-for-23 in save opportunities to tie LaTroy Hawkins (2000-01) for the best career start in MLB history.

“That’s huge. We haven’t had as much margin for error as we would like this year,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s good when we have the opportunity to bring it home and the backend guys … are fantastic. Alex warrants his All-Star appearance.”

The Giants, who had their five-game winning streak snapped Saturday, will start veteran righty Johnny Cueto (6-5, 4.15 ERA) in the series finale.

Cueto likely will hear it from St. Louis fans who haven’t forgotten his actions from 11 years ago.

In 2010, Cueto — then with the Cincinnati Reds — was part of a brawl between the two teams and kicked St. Louis catcher Jason LaRue in the head. That action led to LaRue’s retirement a month later.

Cueto owns a 7-10 record with a 4.00 ERA in 25 career starts against the Cardinals. He last faced them on July 6, allowing four runs on nine hits — including a two-run homer to Nolan Arenado in the first inning — of a 6-5 loss.

“I felt good,” Cueto said. “I think everything was working except for that one pitch that Arenado seemed to be looking for. He put a good swing on it and hit it out.”

The Cardinals will counter with lefty Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 3.20), who signed a free-agent deal with St. Louis last month.

LeBlanc started the season with the Baltimore Orioles but ended up pitching for the Triple-A affiliates of the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers before landing with the Cardinals.

In his most recent start on July 9 against Chicago, LeBlanc took the loss after giving up three runs off five hits in three innings of work.

Sunday will mark the first time LeBlanc has faced the Giants since he was a member of the Seattle Mariners in 2018.

The last time he got a win against San Francisco was back on Aug. 15, 2010, while a member of San Diego Padres.

–Field Level Media

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