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CLE@STL: Westbrook induces groundout, escapes jam

The Cardinals have lost 12 of their last 19 games, but manager Mike Matheny doesn't want his players making excuses for their recent lack of success.

"There's plenty of excuses. There's 1,000 things," Matheny said. "If you let your mind start going there, you've already defined yourself as giving up. I don't believe that's who we are. I don't believe that's what we should be doing."

On Thursday, the Cardinals take on the White Sox, owners of the best road record in baseball, in the rubber game of a three-game series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won Wednesday's game, 1-0, behind a stellar pitching performance from Lance Lynn.

After sitting at 27-22 on May 28, the Cardinals have dropped nine of their last 14 to fall to 32-31. Matheny expects his team to realize that every loss could be the one that keeps the Cardinals from making the playoffs.

"We need that urgency, but we also have the reality that you start freaking out and you don't stick to what you can do, that's more detrimental than anything else. Just go out and play the game," Matheny said.

Jake Westbrook (4-6, 4.25 ERA) will start for the Cardinals.

The White Sox have won eight of their last nine road games, and are starting to notice their fans in road stadiums.

"It means you are playing well," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "People aren't going to take the time or spend the money to come if you are not playing well. We appreciate that. I think that's one of the things of being in Chicago, we have some places that are close and they can make the trip. It's nice having fans here."

The White Sox, who send Gavin Floyd (4-6, 5.38 ERA) to the mound on Thursday, have the best road record in baseball at 18-10. Ventura said that part of his team's success away from U.S. Cellular Field might stem from being able to focus solely on baseball. At home, Ventura guessed, players might have other things to deal with.

"Sometimes, that just jells a team, and some years, it doesn't," Ventura said. "Some years, it's the total opposite."

White Sox: Floyd gets the call
• Floyd will be looking to regain his form from late April and early May against the Cardinals.

In five starts since May 11, Floyd has struggled. His ERA over that span is 10.52, and he has allowed 10 homers. He struck out nearly a batter an inning in his last five starts, but his WHIP was 1.83.

From April 24 to May 11, Floyd sported a 1.26 ERA and didn't give up any homers in 28 2/3 innings.

Floyd may need a good start to keep his spot in the rotation. Jose Quintana has pitched well recently, and John Danks, who went on the disabled list on May 25 with a left shoulder strain but made a rehab start on Tuesday, figures to return to the rotation soon.

Floyd has only faced the Cardinals once before -- on May 9, 2005, when he allowed one run in seven innings for the Phillies.

Cardinals: Westbrook looks to halt ERA spike
• Westbrook's ERA has steadily climbed in his last six starts, and currently sits at 4.25.

Westbrook gave up more than three runs in each of those six starts, and didn't made it into the sixth inning in four of them. In his last start, he gave up three earned runs in six innings to the Indians.

Westbrook is familiar with the White Sox, having made 25 starts against them during his career, his most against any opponent. But Westbrook hasn't faced them since 2010, when he was with the Indians.

His career ERA against the White Sox is 5.25. His last victory against the White Sox came in 2007.

Worth noting
• A.J. Pierzynski has 14 hits in 66 at-bats (.212) against Westbrook in his career. He has never drawn a walk against Westbrook.

• The Cardinals are 1-4 on Thursdays this season.

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