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STL@BAL: Masterson on tough start against Orioles

Justin Masterson will make his third start as a member of the Cardinals on Wednesday night when he takes mound against the Marlins in Miami.

The right-hander has pitched to mixed results since joining the Cardinals at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He's 1-1 with St. Louis, but has allowed five earned runs on seven hits with three walks in both of them. After throwing six innings and beating the Brewers in his Cards debut, Masterson took the loss against the Orioles and lasted only two innings.

"There's just some things that I wasn't doing well, some bad habits I've been falling into," he said. "We had a good time these last few days in between the starts to hunker down and just try and do some smart work with them and to make them right."

The 29-year-old has walked at least two batters in 14 straight outings, and in five of his last seven, he's given up five earned runs.

Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, could be primed for a strong finish if his last two starts are any indication.

The right-hander is coming off back-to-back starts against the Reds, and he combined to allow one run in 15 innings with 12 strikeouts.

At Cincinnati in his last outing, Eovaldi matched his career high by throwing eight innings. His fastball command was strong, and he was throwing hard all game. In the eighth inning, he struck out Billy Hamilton with a 98-mph heater.

"He's been really good," manager Mike Redmond said. "His last two starts, his fastball command has been better. Sometimes guys go through little spurts where they struggle and try to find it. That happens with a lot of pitchers, not just young guys, but veterans as well. The key is how fast you can get it back."

Eovaldi doesn't have much experience against the Cardinals, having faced them three times previously. The right-hander seeks his first win against the traditional National League Central power, against whom he's 0-1 with a 3.57 ERA.

Eovaldi has top-of-the-rotation talent. And now is a time for him to stay hot.

"This is coming at a perfect time for him to get locked in over the last six weeks, and however many starts he has left," Redmond said.

Marlins: Defense will be key down stretch
There have been plenty of defensive struggles for the Marlins this season. They are in the top five in the NL in errors with 76.

So when the team had a strong defensive game like it did on Monday night, it is a reminder that fielding will be important if the club is to make a playoff push.

"Playoff teams make plays," Redmond said. "On those teams, guys make big plays defensively, and they get big hits. Pitchers step up, and they rise to the occasion.

"If there ever is a time to make big plays, this is it."

Cardinals: Adams gets rest Tuesday
The Cards hope first baseman Matt Adams will benefit from the breather he got on Tuesday night.

Manager Mike Matheny mentioned recently he would give Adams a rest at some point, and that moment finally arrived on Tuesday for the second game of the series against the Marlins, as Adams was replaced by Mark Ellis.

Adams went 0-for-5 and hit into a double play on Monday night. Although Matheny took some comfort in the way Adams swung the bat in the 6-5 loss -- he might have had at least one hit if not for the Marlins' outstanding defense -- it was time for the slumping first baseman to sit back. Since the All-Star break, Adams hit .214 with one homer, nine RBIs and two walks in 21 games. That's a drastic fall from the .336 average he was riding after coming back from the disabled list in June.

"I think he realizes that he's grinding right now," Matheny said. "It's a fair expectation that [young players are] gonna go through that. He's been extremely consistent, and we'd like to see him continue to be consistent through the rest of August, September and hopefully October."

Matheny turned to Adams in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, but the slugger struck out in a pinch-hit appearance to end the game.

Worth noting
• With his first home run on Monday, Giancarlo Stanton reached the 30-homer plateau in the fourth-fewest individual games (118) of any previous Marlin.

• Since receiving a day off on Aug. 7 at Pittsburgh, Casey McGehee has recorded four multi-hit games, and has a hit in all five, raising his season average back over .300. Prior to that date, McGehee had just seven hits in his previous 54 at-bats spanning 15 games. Comments