The Cardinals enter the last three weeks of the season five games out of a NL wild-card spot and with no games left against the wild-card-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
"We've got to win every series from here on out," said outfielder Skip Schumaker, referring to the six series the Cardinals have left. "That's the bottom line. We can't lose any series."
If the Cardinals would win every series, that would mean a minimum of 13 victories, which would give them at least 90 for the season. "We won't have any regrets if that's the case," Schumaker said.
Both the Brewers and Cardinals have six games remaining against the division-leading Chicago Cubs, three on the road and three at home, with the Cardinals playing the Cubs on Tuesday through Thursday this week in St. Louis.
Each team also has six games remaining against the lowly Cincinnati Reds, with the Brewers playing Cincinnati Monday through Wednesday before going to Philadelphia for a four-game series this weekend. The Cardinals trail the Phillies in the wild-card race, too, but by just one game, so they would be pulling for Philadelphia over Milwaukee.
Manager Tony La Russa said, "Right now, it's real simple. You've got the first-place team coming to town Tuesday. I'm glad we've still got a claim that we're still in it."
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RHP Adam Wainwright is 9-3 overall and 3-0 in four starts since coming off the disabled list. He suffered a sprained middle finger on his right hand, costing him more than two months.
"It's really a shame for us and a shame for him that he missed ... how long was he out? ... two months," manager Tony La Russa said. "You're talking about as good as anybody's pitched in this league."
--1B Albert Pujols' first-inning homer, the fifth consecutive homer he had hit with a men on, left him just five short of his eighth consecutive 100-RBI season. He already has the .300-plus average and 30 homers he's had in the first seven seasons of his career.
--1B Josh Phelps delivered his third pinch-hit in six at-bats since coming up from Class AAA Memphis, singling home an insurance run in the seventh.
--The Cardinals won both series from Florida this season, capturing five of seven games overall.
--Wainwright's second-inning single was his eighth hit in his last 16 at-bats.
BY THE NUMBERS: 25 -- Rick Ankiel has joined Babe Ruth as the only players to have made 25 or more starts as a pitcher in one season and hit 25 or more homers in another.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I would think the idea this winter is to make some significant additions so we can be there." -- Manager Tony La Russa, on his hope that the club will better be able to challenge for a championship next season.