(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals hope that rookie starter Jaime Garcia can duplicate what Chris Carpenter did last night when he takes the ball Friday in the second portion of a four-game series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium.
"I was able to make good pitches. I thought the command of my fastball was better," Carpenter said. "Scoring seven runs was nice."
Garcia would enjoy a seven-run outburst of his own when he makes his 18th start of the season Friday. He has won five of his last seven decisions and is coming off a no-decision on July 7 in an 8-7 loss at the Rockies. Garcia was reached for four runs -- two earned -- and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings to remain at 8-4 this season, while slightly raising his ERA to 2.17.
The young left-hander threw a scoreless inning of relief to beat the Dodgers on August 5 last season and will make his first start against them tonight.
Albert Pujols had three hits Thursday and scored once, while Allen Craig knocked in two runs for the Cardinals, who have won three of four games and are just a half-game behind idle Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central. The Reds were off Thursday and will host Colorado this weekend.
Los Angeles entered the All-Star break with six wins in nine tries, but came out a bit sluggish in Thursday's series opener in the Gateway City.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw fell to 9-5 this season after he allowed five runs -- four earned -- and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings to absorb the loss. He didn't get much offensive support besides the help provided by Andre Ethier, who ended 2-for-4 with the lone RBI and a run scored.
"They just kept the pressure on all night," Kershaw said. "The leadoff guy was on every inning. It wasn't a snowball effect, but when you get leadoff guys on and you're getting some hits, it's a tough way to pitch."
LA, which was outhit by a 12-4 difference, will rest its hopes on Chad Billingsley for tonight's second installment of this series. Since winning four straight starts in late May, Billingsley is just 1-2 with a 4.89 earned run average in his last six appearances. He won his most recent outing on July 9 against the Chicago Cubs, as he gave up four runs in seven innings of a 9-7 win. Billingsley improved to 7-4 this season in 16 starts.
The right-hander has been solid on the road this season, going 4-1 in eight starts, and is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in six career games (5 starts) against the Cardinals.
The Dodgers swept a three-game set at home versus the Cardinals from June 7-9 after losing five of seven to the club last season.