Kozma starts as Cards take on a fading Simon - KMOV.com

Kozma starts as Cards take on a fading Simon

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) — Pete Kozma will make his second start for the Cardinals all season in Cincinnati Wednesday, hitting eighth and giving Jhonny Peralta a night off. 

Kozma went down to AAA in mid-April, returning to MLB action on the last day of August against the Cubs. In his three appearances since coming back up to the Cardinals, he has gone 2-for-5 with a double and two runs. 

It’s perhaps reflective of Kozma finding his swing down the stretch in Memphis. In August, the shortstop hit .307 with 20 RBIs, notching seven doubles and four homers in 114 plate appearances. It was far and away his best month of work, and is a ray of hope for a gifted fielder with a subpar bat. 

The Cardinals lost just their second game in the last 11 Tuesday, but the standings remained the same as the Pirates and Brewers both went down. It’s a touch early to start talking magic numbers, but for those wondering, the Cardinals need 12 wins to guarantee besting the Brewers and 14 to shut out the Pirates for the division title. 

Simon's struggles

They will have a good shot against the Reds’ Alfredo Simon. The 33-year-old came out of nowhere this season to carry 12 wins into the All Star break, a mark that was tied for tops in baseball. At the time, he had the fewest losses of any pitcher with 12 victories and boasted an ERA of 2.70. 

Cut to September 10, and he’s won only once more. 

These days, Simon is 13-10 and posting a 3.52 ERA. Since the break, his ERA is 5.27, his WHIP is 1.55 (up from 1.04) and his strikeout to walk ratio has been cut in half. 

Opponents are also hitting just shy of 80 points better against him (.297 compared to .219). 

Simon started once against the Birds this year, lasting 5.1 innings and giving up three runs on eight hits. One of those hits was a bomb by Jhonny Peralta, who will not be in the lineup Wednesday. 

Lineup

1) Matt Carpenter 3B

2) Jon Jay CF

3) Matt Holliday LF

4) Matt Adams 1B

5) Oscar Taveras RF

6) Yadier Molina C

7) Kolten Wong 2B

8) Pete Kozma SS

9) John Lackey P

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