The St. Louis Cardinals are trying solve some recent pitching woes and snap their longest slide of the season. Getting Kyle McClellan back from the disabled list should give them a chance to do that.
McClellan is scheduled to take the mound for the first time this month when the Cardinals try to end their skid in the middle game of this series with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.St. Louis (38-30), tied with Milwaukee for first in the NL Central, has dropped four in a row with the staff compiling a bloated 7.03 ERA.The Cardinals have been victimized by the big inning during in the last three defeats of their four-game skid, and that continued Tuesday when they allowed the Nationals (31-36) to score six runs in the seventh en route to an 8-6 loss.McClellan (6-2, 3.86 ERA) may be back from a hip injury at an ideal time for St. Louis, which last dropped five in a row from Aug. 29-Sept. 1.The right-hander is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list and get his first start since allowing a career-high seven runs in four innings of a 7-3 loss to San Francisco on May 30.McClellan, who has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his 10 starts, made an adjustment on the rubber to eliminate stress on the hip."Based on what I've done in the bullpen, I'm confident with it," McClellan told the team's official website. "There were a couple different things we were going to try to do, and really, I just moved on the rubber and let everything else happen. I can't worry about this, that and the other. Just moving on the rubber really takes all the thinking out of it and now I just have to pitch."I don't expect anything different. I expect to continue what I, for the most part, was doing. I don't expect any limitations by any means."McClellan will now get his first start versus the Nationals. He has no record while allowing four runs in 7 2/3 innings over eight relief outings against them.Albert Pujols, who had a two-run homer Tuesday, is hitting .346 with 14 RBIs over the past 14 games. Twelve of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven home runs.He's 12 for 30 with three doubles, six homers and nine RBIs in 10 games at Nationals Park, and owns a .351 average with three homers off Livan Hernandez, Washington's scheduled starter.Lance Berkman is also having a power surge, as six of his nine hits over the last nine games have been homers while accumulating 12 RBIs. He's hitting .368 with eight homers and 35 RBIs over his last 34 meetings with the Nationals.Washington seeks its first five-game winning streak since winning seven in a row to end 2009.Hernandez (3-8, 4.15) will try to get the Nationals closer to that mark, but he's tied with a host of others for the most losses in the majors.The 35-year-old right-hander is 0-6 with a 4.86 ERA over his last eight starts. That winless stretch showed few signs of ending in Thursday's 7-3 defeat at San Diego, where he surrendered six runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.A return to the nation's capital may provide some relief, as Hernandez is 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA in six home starts.Hernandez was credited with a 14-5 win in his most recent meeting versus St. Louis at Nationals Park on Aug. 28, allowing five runs in 6 1/3 innings.