CINCINNATI -- No one in St. Louis will admit it, but the club knows this stretch of games heading into September carries a little bit more weight.
The Cardinals wrap up their series with the division-rival Reds on Sunday before heading to Pittsburgh to take on a Pirates team nipping at their heels.
"Every game is important for us," said Matt Holliday. "We're trying to win. We're trying to make the playoffs. Every game is equally important. We're pushing hard, and it's almost September."
It's not an unfamiliar feeling for the Cardinals, who sat in a similar position at this time one year ago.
On Aug. 26, 2011, St. Louis was 9 1/2 games behind both the division-leading Brewers and the Wild Card-leading Braves, before making an improbable run to the World Series.
"I think we've got pretty good talent, the same or better than last year," Yadier Molina said. "I feel that right now we're playing good baseball like we did last year."
Entering Sunday, the Cardinals were seven games back in the National League Central and held a narrow half-game lead over the Dodgers for the second Wild Card spot, which could prove to be their ticket to the postseason.
"Obviously, this year is different because of the second Wild Card," Molina said. "Last year is last year. You know it's going to be tough to win 162, but at the same time, you need to know that you have to win the most games you can, and this is no different.
"For me it's just another game. You try to win it."