The St. Louis Cardinals are trending in the right direction with their two candidates for the National League's MVP award leading the way.
Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have opened the month of August on a tear for the streaking Cardinals, who continue their three-game series against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Goldschmidt and Arenado both homered on Friday as St. Louis recorded its ninth straight win at home following a 3-1 victory.
St. Louis has won 11 of itsplast 14 overall to move 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central.
The Brewers have lost seven of their past 10 and face a difficult challenge slowing down the Cardinals' hot-hitting duo.
Goldschmidt has gone deep in back-to-back games and leads the team in hitting (.331) and homers (28). Arenado has homered in three straight contests and has six homers in his past 10 games, giving him 25 on the year.
"What both those guys are doing is incredibly impressive," St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. "If everyone knew what goes into their consistency, that's more impressive than just the results. The hard work that goes into their preparation is second to none."
Goldschmidt clearly enjoys hitting in the third spot in the order ahead of Arenado, who was acquired from the Colorado Rockies before the 2021 season.
"Just having him in our lineup is huge," Goldschmidt said. "I love having him here. We talk about hitting every day. He helps me. Hopefully I help him a little bit. I just love playing with him."
St. Louis and Milwaukee have played 13 times this season, with the Cardinals winning seven.
Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong singled in his only at-bat on Friday. The former Cardinal is batting .386 (22-for-57) with two homers and eight RBIs in 18 games since the All-Star break.
Milwaukee left eight runners on base in the series opener, but manager Craig Counsell remained optimistic.
"We kept it close and pitched well enough to keep it close," Counsell said. "Credit to our guys. Hopefully it pays off the rest of the weekend."
The Brewers will send right-hander Corbin Burnes (8-5, 2.45 ERA) to the mound on Saturday. He received a no-decision despite allowing just one run on two hits over six innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
The reigning NL Cy Young winner is 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 road starts this season.
Goldschmidt is 8-for-24 with a home run against Burnes, who is 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 13 career games (10 starts) versus St. Louis.
Burnes, 27, has been outstanding in two previous starts against the Cardinals this season, tossing seven shutout innings in both outings.
St. Louis will counter with veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright (8-8, 3.42), who is looking to bounce back from his worst outing of the season.
Wainwright, who turns 41 later this month, yielded six runs while throwing 111 pitches over four-plus innings against the New York Yankees on Sunday.
Andrew McCutchen is 24-for-73 (.329) with three homers against Wainwright, who is 20-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 52 career games (45 starts) versus Milwaukee.
Wainwright has gone 0-2 with a 7.07 ERA in three previous outings against the Brewers this season.
Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley likely will be unavailable on Saturday after pitching two scoreless innings for his 12th save on Friday.
--Field Level Media