The Boston Red Sox claimed their third World Series title in the past 10 years the last time they faced the St. Louis Cardinals.
The two storied ballclubs will renew their rivalry Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Boston is in a down year in 2014 and defeated St. Louis in six games to win last season's World Series. The Red Sox also swept the Cardinals in four games in the 2004 Fall Classic.
St. Louis is in the hunt for another NL Central championship and sits one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the division standings. It took two of three meetings with the Brewers at home this past weekend and recorded a 3-2 victory in Sunday's series finale, as former Red Sox hurler John Lackey impressed in his debut with seven innings of two-run ball.
Acquired from the Red Sox before Thursday's trade deadline, Lackey struck out four and did not walk a batter. Lackey was traded for starting pitcher Joe Kelly and infielder Allen Craig. The two will make their return to the Gateway City tonight.
"From the start, my arm felt good," Lackey said. "I started locating some balls better as the game went on."
Milwaukee grabbed a 2-0 lead by the second inning, but the Cardinals rallied behind Lackey and plated three runs in the seventh to take the lead. Matt Holliday hit a solo home run, while A.J. Pierzynski and Oscar Taveras later hit back-to-back RBI singles.
"We weren't really trying to do anything except get guys on base," Pierzynski said. "Matt hit the home run and then we just strung a bunch of singles together to kind of get us to a point where we were able to get a lead and then the bullpen did what they've done."
Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal each tossed a scoreless inning of relief with the latter notching his major league-leading 34th save of the season.
The Cardinals currently possess one of the top two wild card spots and have won three of the last four games. They hope to continue the winning ways with Lance Lynn set to take the mound Tuesday and he is 11-8 with a 2.98 earned run average. Lynn has lost consecutive starts since winning three in a row and has pitched well in the two defeats.
Lynn allowed two runs, one of which was earned, in six innings of last Tuesday's 3-1 loss at San Diego. He allowed the same amount of runs in 6 1/3 frames of a 3-0 loss versus Tampa Bay on July 23. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two appearances (one start) against Boston in last year's World Series.
In Sunday's rubber match with the rival Yankees, Boston suffered an 8-7 defeat and lost for the 10th time in the last 12 games. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia both hit two-run homers and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz was roughed up in the no-decision, allowing seven runs and eight hits in five innings.
"The walks have been a part in the runs we've allowed, and that was the case again tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Buchholz, who walked five and struck out five.
Craig Breslow allowed the go-ahead run in the sixth inning for the loss.
The Red Sox have lost five of their last six road games and hope Rubby De La Rosa can get something going when he takes the mound Tuesday. De La Rosa is 3-4 with a 3.64 ERA this season and has lost his previous two trips to the mound, including last Tuesday's 4-2 defeat to Toronto.
De La Rosa was touched for three runs and nine hits in six innings, one outing after surrendering seven runs -- six earned -- and nine hits over four innings of an 8-0 loss at the Blue Jays. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA in four road starts this season and has never faced St. Louis.
De La Rosa is 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against the NL.
St. Louis won two of three games in Boston back in 2008 and did the same at home in this series in 2005.