With offense rolling, Cards close series with Nationals

The visiting St. Louis Cardinals will look to keep their offense going Monday afternoon in the finale of a four-game set against the Washington Nationals.

The Cardinals are coming off an 8-3 victory Sunday after scoring a total of 13 runs while splitting the first two games of the series.

Willson Contreras went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs in St. Louis’ latest win, and Nolan Arenado and Nolan Gorman each added two hits and two RBIs.

Nationals left-hander Mitchell Parker (5-4, 3.61 ERA) will attempt to slow the Cardinals on Monday.

Parker, a rookie, is scheduled to make his 16th major league start. He escaped with a no-decision against the New York Mets last Wednesday after allowing five runs on five hits in six innings as Washington won 7-5.

Monday will mark Parker’s first career appearance against St. Louis.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas (6-7, 5.19) will get the nod for the Cardinals. He also is coming off a no-decision, giving up two runs and five hits in six innings in his team’s 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

“I thought he did a nice job. He gave up two (runs) there after we scored, but held it together and gave us a shot, for sure,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said of Mikolas following the outing against Pittsburgh. “I thought he filled up the zone well, and it looked like the guy that we’d seen quite a bit this year.”

Mikolas is 3-3 with a 3.77 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against Washington.

Contreras will be among those trying to provide Mikolas with plenty of run support. Contreras is still trying to return to form after being activated from the 10-day injured list on June 24. He sustained a left forearm fracture on May 7 that kept him away from the big-league club for nearly two months.

But things have been going well as of late for the catcher/designated hitter, as Contreras is riding a six-game hitting streak. He has gone 8-for-25 (.320) with three homers and eight RBIs during that stretch.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of what baseball is giving me right now,” Contreras said. “When there are no hits, there are no hits. Really, I want to celebrate everything right now — every walk, every single and every homer.”

Meanwhile, Gorman has had four multi-hit efforts over his past six games.

The Nationals will try to contain Contreras, Gorman and the rest of the Cardinals with an overworked bullpen that was needed for 4 2/3 innings on Sunday after starter DJ Herz lasted just 4 1/3.

Washington is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays 17 games in 17 days.

“Most of our bullpen has been going one-plus innings right now,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We’re trying to get to that All-Star break, to give them a break. We need some length (Monday) from our starter, that’s what we need.”

Full rosters for the July 16 All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas, were released on Sunday, and shortstop CJ Abrams will represent Washington.

Abrams is hitting .282 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs this season.

St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley also is an All-Star. He has a major-league-best 31 saves for the year.

–Field Level Media