Martinez, Cards seek eighth straight victory

Martinez, Cards seek eighth straight victory

When he takes the mound Saturday night against the Braves at Busch Stadium, ace right-hander Carlos Martinez will make his 92nd career start as the Cardinals go for their eighth straight win.

His opponent, Atlanta rookie righty Lucas Sims, will be making his third start and seeking his first victory.

Martinez (8-9, 3.52 ERA) is coming off a strong start in Kansas City, where he limited the Royals to two runs on seven hits over eight innings to earn his eighth win. He'll face the Braves looking to get to .500 and keep surging St. Louis headed in the right direction.

"You look at that stat sheet and they've got some guys having really good years," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Up and down that line. Their whole team is double-digit homers, and they did that last year. It's just a solid, athletic ballclub. That's what they've got. They've got some baseball players and when you have that mix, that's a good thing. Because now they are getting it going and they've been on a run."

Sims (0-2, 5.25 ERA) allowed seven runs on 12 hits in 12 innings in his first two outings, with six strikeouts against two walks.

The 23-year-old right-hander, Atlanta's first-round Draft pick in 2012, was 7-4 with a 3.75 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 115 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this season.

Three things to know about this game

• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has three hits, including a homer, in six at-bats against Martinez, and also has four RBIs. Outfielders Ender Inciarte (4-for-8) and Jace Peterson (3-for-8) have also had success in limited opportunities against the righty.

• Martinez has limited Braves third baseman Brandon Phillips to a .222 average (four hits in 18 at-bats). Phillips has more strikeouts (five) than hits against Martinez.

• Cardinals center fielder Dexter Fowler's first-inning walk Friday extended his streak to nine games in which he's reached via a walk.

Nate Latsch is a contributor to based in St. Louis and covered the Braves on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.