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Eric Stults goes for third straight win as Padres try to keep hot streak going

Dilip Vishwanat

It'll take some hard work and a lot of help from other teams, but our Padres could very well find themselves back in the wild card race in the coming weeks. They did everything they needed to do in their last series, sweeping the Rockies to improve to 57-62 on the season. Now they hit the road again for 11 days as they try to inch closer to .500 ball and maybe shrink the gap between themselves and the wild card.

St. Louis is the first stop for our boys, and Eric Stults will get things started in tonight's opener. Stults has been easily the least impressive starter on the Padres staff, and he's currently tied for most losses in the majors, but he's had some success lately. The lefty is coming off his first pair of consecutive wins this season. He kept opponents to two runs (only one earned) in 12 2/3 innings over those two starts, which included his first road victory of the year. Last July, in Stultsy's only career outing at Busch Stadium, he gave up three runs in six innings for the loss.

Now while Stultsy's coming off arguably the best outing of his season, St. Louis starter John Lackey is coming off one of his worst - not only of the season, but possibly of his career. In his second start since being acquired from the Red Sox prior to the trade deadline, Lackey gave up a season-high nine runs on 13 hits in five innings against the Orioles. That makes him 1-1 with an 8.25 ERA as a Cardinal and 12-8 with a 3.98 ERA overall this season. Lackey was pretty effective, though, in his last outing against San Diego, allowing just one run in eight innings.

Our Friars riding a season-high-tying five-game winning streak and have gone 11-3 over their last 14 games, a stretch during which the offense has averaged 4.6 runs while batting .276. For comparison, they are averaging only 3.3 runs and batting .225 through the entire season. Much of that offensive improvement has come from the new guys on the team, whether they were acquired through trade or brought up from the minors. Yangervis Solarte has been a great help on offense, though he won't be making the start today and is listed as day-to-day after having to leave in the 7th inning yesterday with a muscle strain. Rymer Liriano is in the lineup again, though, and he'll try to continue the hot start he's had since making his major league debut on Monday.

Game Time in St. Louis is set for 5:15 PT.