The St. Louis Cardinals will have a chance to make up ground with head-to-head contests against their chief competition in the National League Central next week, but they need to prevent the hole they are in from getting any deeper. The Cardinals wrap up a three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, hoping to hold their ground in the division as well as in the wild-card race.



St. Louis had a four-game winning streak snapped with an 11-6 loss Saturday in which starter Lance Lynn was tagged for eight runs and didn't get out of the first inning. The Cardinals are five games back of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and 1 1/2 behind Colorado for the second NL wild-card. St. Louis plays its final seven games at home - four against the Cubs and three against second-place Milwaukee. The Pirates are reduced to playing spoiler, as Saturday's win was only their third in the past 16 games.

TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), ATT SportsNet-Pittsburgh



PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH John Gant (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Jameson Taillon (7-7, 4.73)

Gant will take his first turn of the season for the Cardinals after five relief appearances. The 25-year-old made seven starts for the Braves in 2016 and allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of them. Gant has made two relief appearances in his career against the Pirates, allowing two runs (one earned) over 2 1/3 innings.

Taillon is winless in his last six outings and has a 5.46 ERA and only one quality start over that stretch. The 25-year-old was a victim of poor run support Monday, as he allowed two runs over five-plus innings in a 3-0 loss to Milwaukee. Taillon is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals.



WALK-OFFS

1. St. Louis OF Tommy Pham is 12-for-27 during a six-game hitting streak and hit his 22nd home run Saturday.

2. The Pirates were 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position Saturday and are 9-for-23 in such situations in the series.

3. Cardinals 1B Jose Martinez will be unavailable for the series finale due to a sprained left thumb.



PREDICTION: Pirates 7, Cardinals 5