Padres manager Bud Black spoke before the start of this weekend's series with the Cardinals about his opponents' effectiveness with runners in scoring position. On Friday, St. Louis continued where it left off before the All-Star break, going 6-for-14 with RISP in a 9-6 victory over San Diego.
The two teams will continue a three-game series on Saturday, with the Padres trying to find a way to slow down the Cardinals' offense with men on base. Their .339 average with runners in scoring position is the best in the Majors.
"They don't strike out when guys are on base. Their hitters have an ability to manipulate the bat to put the bat on the ball on tough pitches, on pitcher's pitches," said Black. "And on a pitcher's mistake, they're talented enough to obviously square them up and do some damage."
With Friday's victory, the Cardinals also increased their lead over the Pirates in the National League Central to two games.
They'll send starter Lance Lynn to the mound, who will be try to rebound from a rough end to the first half. He has allowed four or more runs in five of his last seven starts.
In those starts, he's often been hurt by big innings, which Cardinals manager Mike Matheny attributed to Lynn possibly getting a little ahead of himself.
"The process of doing that is really controlling his thoughts more so than anything else -- not getting too far ahead of himself, not thinking about the fourth or the seventh inning when you're in the second or the third." Matheny said. "I think that's a little bit what Lance was going through. He was maybe getting too far ahead of himself instead of just controlling what he can control, and that's this particular pitch right now."
Padres starter Edinson Volquez will be facing the Cardinals for the second time this season. He took a loss at Petco Park on May 21 after allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings.
Volquez's 20 starts before the All-Star break were a personal high, while his 109 2/3 innings were the second most in the first half since he pitched 117 2/3 innings before the break in 2008 with the Reds.
Padres: Headley's new lineup spot
Chase Headley went 2-for-4 with walk and an RBI, batting in the No. 2 slot in the order on Friday for the first time since June 2011.
The Padres are trying to find a way to break Headley from his season long slump; his .232 average has him on pace for his worst season at the plate since he hit .222 as a rookie.
"I don't really worry about where I hit. I'm going to try to do the same things that I always do," Headley said. "If I get going, is that what made me get going? I don't know. It just is what it is. And I'll hit when they tell me to hit."
Cardinals: Still without Holliday
Matt Holliday is still feeling a lingering tightness in his hamstring that kept him out of the lineup on Friday against the Padres.
Holliday has been out for more than a week and missed his fourth straight game, but the Cardinals want to avoid putting him on the disabled list with the hope that he could return at some point this weekend.
One positive note is that Holliday has been able to take batting practice each of the past two days, but the discomfort returned when he tried to pass a running test on Friday.
"He was talking about being able to [run at] 80-90 percent," Matheny said on Friday. "There is still a little more that we wanted to see, so another day should help. We want to make sure we don't go backwards."
• Padres outfielder Will Venable is hitting .435 (20-for-56) in his career at Busch Stadium, the best among all active players.
• The Cardinals are 3-0 against Volquez during his career at Busch Stadium. In four starts in that ballpark, he has a 6.50 ERA.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.