Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 9/28/12
(AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have put themselves in prime position to secure the NL's second wild card by taking advantage of a stretch of games against baseball's two worst teams. From here on out, the competition will be much stiffer. The Cardinals conclude the season with back-to-back home series against baseball's two best clubs, beginning Friday night when they face a Washington Nationals team still trying to lock down the NL East. St. Louis' magic number to clinch a playoff spot and defend its World Series championship is four over the Los Angeles Dodgers with six games to play. The Cardinals (84-72) have created some separation in the race by winning five of six over hapless Houston and two of three from lowly Chicago since Sept. 18. Prior to this run, St. Louis had lost eight of 11, which included dropping three of four in Washington from Aug. 30-Sept. 2. Wins could again be hard to come by for the Cardinals, with their remaining games against Washington and NL Central-champion Cincinnati - the two teams trying to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. "We have a tough homestand coming up," Chris Carpenter told the Cardinals' official website after Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the Astros. "We have to go back there and win some ballgames, so that we have some momentum going into the wild card, if we get there." Although the Nationals (95-61) own baseball's best record, they still haven't assured themselves of avoiding the wild card. They have a magic number of three to clinch their first division crown, leading Atlanta by four games with six to play. "We have to keep fighting," said Gio Gonzalez, who became the majors' first 21-game winner with Thursday's 7-3 victory over Philadelphia. "It won't be easy. We just want to do what we've been doing all year." What the Nationals have done to get to this point is win with their pitching. The NL leaders with a 3.29 ERA, they held St. Louis to four runs in their three wins earlier this month. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.77 ERA) shut down his former team in an 8-1 victory in that series opener, allowing an unearned run and four hits with 10 strikeouts over eight innings. Yadier Molina was hitless in two at-bats after going 7 for 8 in prior matchups with his former batterymate, who made four postseason starts for the Cardinals during last October's World Series run. The veteran right-hander had a 7.47 ERA in his three starts following his mastery over St. Louis before yielding one run and six hits over eight innings in last Friday's 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, though he didn't get the decision. St. Louis counters with Adam Wainwright (13-13, 4.02), who gave up four runs and six hits over seven innings in Saturday's 5-4, 11-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs. Wainwright, whose last victory came in Cincinnati on Aug. 26, is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA in his last five starts after sporting a 1.47 ERA in winning his previous five. His winless stretch started in the nation's capital Aug. 31, when he was knocked around for six runs and nine hits in a season-low 2 2-3 innings in a 10-0 loss. Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each had a pair of hits off the righty. Werth is batting .351 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last nine games versus the Cardinals, while Desmond is a lifetime .421 hitter in St. Louis.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tiger Woods tells golf world to try and kick this football he’s holding

Report: Paxton Lynch cutting out early while other QBs stay late

Michael Jordan unique 1984 Converse shoes could fetch up to $100K at auction

Former Coyotes minor leaguer named a pro scout after heart attack, leg amputation

Joe Girardi has interesting reason why no medical scans for Masahiro Tanaka

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ezekiel Elliott’s mom fires back after son criticized for being in car accident

Browns make Ryan Grigson senior personnel executive

Potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz looks positively jacked in recent photo

Manchester United wins Europa League Final, returns to Champions League

Ice Cube challenges LaVar Ball to make 4-point shot, will make it worth his while

D’Angelo Russell ‘likes’ tweet saying ‘no way’ Lakers should draft Lonzo Ball

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker