MLB: Cards, Braves both catching fire heading into 3-game set


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After pulling out of prolonged slumps that started earlier in the season, the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals have become two of the hottest teams in the National League.

Both will try to keep building momentum on Monday when Atlanta opens a three-game series with host St. Louis.

The Braves have won eight of their past 10 games on the heels of a five-game losing streak.

“We swung the bat pretty well,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said after his team won two of three games against the New York Yankees over the weekend. “We did some good situational hitting. So it was good.”

The Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants on Sunday with a 5-3 victory. St. Louis has won eight of its past 11 games.

Since starting the season 15-24, the Cardinals have gone 24-13 to climb into the playoff race.

“I like our approach right now,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “We’re on the attack offensively. If (the pitch) is in the zone, we’re looking to do damage. We’re playing small ball. We’re getting hits when needed. We’re running the bases hard, playing good defense.

“Overall, this is the style of play we need to continue.”

The Cardinals will open the series with right-hander Lance Lynn (2-3, 4.08 ERA), who will try to get back on track. In four June starts, Lynn has allowed 17 runs (12 earned) on 23 hits in 17 2/3 innings — translating to an ERA of 6.11.

In his latest start, Lynn was lucky to come away with a no-decision, giving up six runs (five earned) and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. St. Louis ended up losing that game 9-8 in 10 innings.

“I actually threw the ball where I wanted to, just didn’t have any success,” Lynn said after that outing. “Offense gave me runs early and I wasn’t able to execute and not give up runs and let (the Marlins) right back in the ballgame.”

Lynn is 4-4 with a 4.34 ERA in eight career starts against the Braves.

Atlanta will turn to rookie right-hander Spencer Schwellenbach (1-2, 4.98), who has allowed just three runs on seven hits in 12 innings over his past two starts. He has struck out 10 and walked four in those games.

“He’s got such a good idea about what he wants to do,” Snitker said of Schwellenbach. “He executes his pitches and repeats his delivery and all the little things. He fields his position and holds runners really well.”

Schwellenbach earned his first big-league victory Tuesday when the Braves edged the Detroit Tigers 2-1.

Monday marks Schwellenbach’s first career appearance against the Cardinals.

St. Louis could activate catcher Willson Contreras from the 10-day injured list for this series. He has been sidelined since May 8 with a broken forearm and completed a rehab stint at Triple-A Memphis on Sunday.

Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (left forearm nerve irritation) and outfielder Michael Siani (bruised ribs) have been sidelined on a day-to-day basis. Arenado received an injection in the nerve and is undergoing further evaluation.

–Field Level Media


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