Weaver, Cards continue playoff push vs. Reds

Weaver, Cards continue playoff push vs. Reds

The Cardinals have been sprinting to the finish as they try to make a push into the postseason -- with either a National League Central title or a Wild Card spot.

Either way, they will be counting on Luke Weaver to keep his and the club's momentum going when he squares off against Reds rookie left-hander Amir Garrett in Thursday's rubber game at Busch Stadium.

Weaver, who has won five straight starts, allowed seven hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings with no walks and seven strikeouts in a 4-1 win over the Pirates on Saturday. Over his past four starts, he logged a 1.42 ERA and 36 strikeouts. The right-hander has a streak of 13 2/3 scoreless innings pitched at Busch Stadium dating to July 27.

In the division race, the Cardinals sit three games behind the first-place Cubs and 3 1/2 games back for the second NL Wild Card. It will be important for the Cardinals to not look past the Reds ahead of a crucial road trip that starts on Friday vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Garrett returned to the big league rotation for the first time since June 20 and was a 5-1 loser to the Mets on Friday. Over five innings, he allowed four earned runs with five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. New York tapped him for three home runs as well.

In his Major League debut vs. the Cardinals on April 7 at Busch Stadium, Garrett tossed six innings of two-hit ball as the Reds earned a 2-0 shutout win. Six Cardinals position players have faced Garrett previously and they are a combined 1-for-12. Second baseman Kolten Wong tallied the lone hit (a single).

Three things to know about this game

• Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett may be available to start on Thursday. It will depend on how his left hand responds to treatments after it became inflamed during Tuesday's game.

• Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko (right hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day DL and is available in a pinch-hitting role only. He will not be an option to run the bases or play the field for the series finale.

• Weaver has recorded 21 of his 36 strikeouts over his past four starts on four-seam fastballs, according to Statcast. Only D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray has racked up more K's on four-seamers since Aug. 23.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.