Preview: Cardinals at Phillies

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[June 20, 2017]  The St. Louis Cardinals appeared to be on the verge of turning their season around following a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies two weekends ago, but the losing ways of the worst team in the majors seems to have rubbed off on them instead. The Cardinals seek only their third win in a stretch of 15 road contests Tuesday when they open a three-game set in Philadelphia.

St. Louis ended a season-high seven-game slide by silencing the Phillies' bats from June 9-11 at Busch Stadium, as the rotation recorded a 1.80 ERA while picking up the win in every contest during the three-game set. While the offense has held up its end of the bargain by scoring 44 runs in the seven games since, Cardinals' starting pitchers have not - posting a 9.39 ERA while the team has won only two of seven. Philadelphia (22-46), which has mustered a total of 30 runs while dropping 11 of 12, fell in extra innings for the third time in a week Sunday against Arizona and has lost six one-run affairs during its slide. Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph has been a rare bright spot for the majors' second-lowest scoring offense, batting .339 during his career-high 14-game hitting streak.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), CSN Philadelphia

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Mike Leake (5-6, 3.14 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.91)

Since opening the season with nine quality starts, Leake has been unable to do so once in his last four turns - the last of which came against Milwaukee on Wednesday when he was tagged for a season-high six runs in as many frames. The Arizona State product has lost each of his outings during the slide while posting a 6.20 ERA - a far cry from the 5-2 record and 1.91 ERA he boasted leading into Memorial Day. Leake is 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 starts versus the Phillies.

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Like his counterpart Tuesday, Hellickson has dropped four straight decisions, including Wednesday's loss against Boston in which he surrendered six runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings. Walks have been a problem for the 30-year-old Iowa native during his five-start winless spell, as he has issued 14 of his 23 on the season while posting a 7.57 ERA. Hellickson took the loss in arguably his best outing in that time on June 9 in St. Louis, allowing three runs and a season-high 10 hits in six frames.

WALK-OFFS

1. Cardinals CF Dexter Fowler has seven two-hit efforts over his last 10 games and homered in each of his last four. He has also has driven in at least one run in seven of his last eight contests.

2. Phillies RHP Pat Neshek hasn't allowed a run in his last 14 outings - spanning 13 1/3 innings - and his 0.67 ERA is the lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 25 innings.

3. Since moving into the leadoff spot on June 7, St. Louis 1B Matt Carpenter has hit safely in 10 of 12 games while batting .405.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 6, Phillies 4

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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