MLB Baseball

11
Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
St. Louis3 0 0 1 2 0 0 3 2 11102
Atlanta0 0 2 0 0 2 1 1 0 6100
6
  W: M. Mikolas (16-4)   L: M. Foltynewicz (11-10)
4:35 PM PT5:35 PM MT6:35 PM CT7:35 PM ET19:35 ET23:35 GMT7:35 4:35 PM MST6:35 PM EST7:05 PM VEN3:35 UAE (+1)6:35 PM CT, September 17, 2018
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia  Attendance: 24,304

Cardinals, Braves square off in pivotal series

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals will open with their surprise 2018 aces as they begin an important three-game series for both teams on Monday night.

Miles Mikolas (15-4, 2.99 ERA) will start for the visiting Cardinals, with fellow right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (11-9, 2.66) getting the call for the National League East-leading Braves at SunTrust Park.

Although the Braves (83-66) lost two of three weekend games to the Washington Nationals to open their final 10-game homestand of the season, they still lead the Philadelphia Phillies by 6 1/2 games and the Nationals by 7 1/2 with two weeks to play.

The Cardinals (82-68) trail the first-place Chicago Cubs by 5 1/2 games in the NL Central but are tied for the last wild-card spot after salvaging the finale of a four-game home series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.

Atlanta, which has a magic number of eight to win the NL East, swept a three-game series in St. Louis on June 29-July 1, outscoring the Cardinals 22-10.

That was before Mike Shildt replaced Mike Matheny as St. Louis manager, though, and the Braves also have played much better on the road than at home all season.

The Braves have a 45-30 road record -- best in the NL -- but are just 38-36 at home after 12 losses in their past 16 games in Atlanta.

The Cardinals have the third-best road record at 42-33 and are 35-22 overall since Shildt took over July 15.

Foltynewicz comes into the St. Louis series off a complete-game victory at San Francisco in his most recent start. The Braves need a quality outing after Julio Teheran lasted just four innings and Sean Newcomb three in losses to the Nationals that followed a six-game winning streak.

"It was the best I've felt all season," Foltynewicz said after allowing a run and six hits against the Giants while striking out seven and walking just one. "It was a big win for us. That whole trip was huge."

Now Foltynewicz needs a comparable follow-up back in Atlanta.

"I'm learning how to pitch in September," said Foltynewicz, who made the All-Star Game for the first time this year. "When you're in the middle of a playoff race, every inning counts so much."

Pitching in September pressure with the Cardinals is new as well for Mikolas, who spent the last three seasons in Japan.

Mikolas, though, allowed just one run in seven innings of his most recent start to beat Pittsburgh and become the first pitcher to win as many as 15 games in his first season with St. Louis since Mark Mulder in 2003.

"This is crunch time," Mikolas said. "This is time to kind of dig deep... leave it all out there and use everything you've got."

Mikolas took the loss against the Braves in the opener of the series at St. Louis but deserved a better fate. He allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings.

Foltynewicz won the final game of the series, allowing just one hit in five scoreless innings while striking out nine and walking three.

Foltynewicz, who has 186 strikeouts in 166 innings this season, hadn't fared well against the Cardinals before this season, though. He is 2-2 with a 7.13 ERA lifetime, working just 17 2/3 innings in four career starts.

Updated September 17, 2018

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