In a division race as tight as the National League Central this season, every game seems to have a magnifying glass on it.
The Cardinals and Pirates are both hoping that magnifying glass doesn't burn them during their three-game series in St Louis. The Redbirds grabbed sole possession of first place on Monday for the first time this season and enter Tuesday's game one game ahead of the Brewers and three in front of the Pirates.
"We can't ignore the standings," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "With a lot has been said around us, about us, whether it's the individuals or the club as a whole, I love that about our club. They thrive on that stuff. It brings out something."
The Cards are in a particularly important position, as they will play four games in Milwaukee after their series with the Pirates.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they have their ace ready to continue their winning ways after a comeback victory on Monday, even if he has had a rough time lately.
Adam Wainwright has struggled since the All-Star break, going 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA in 50 innings. The St. Louis ace said that could be attributed, at least in part, to arm fatigue.
"Baseball is a weird, funny game. It can be very frustrating," Wainwright said. "Over the last however many starts it's been, if it's not one thing, it's another. Really, my arm has felt better. I have been going through a dead-arm phase, and everybody does. But you have to find ways to get outs.
"You look at your season as a whole, if you stay out of those big, crooked innings, usually your season ends up OK and usually you win a lot of games. As ugly as it is, and whatever it may look like, I'm still holding us in the game and I know that we're close."
The Pirates' starter on Tuesday has been trending in a different direction.
Jeff Locke, who missed the first month of the season with an oblique injury, went 4-0 in August with a 2.90 ERA, and is looking to get September off to a hot start.
"I've just been focused since returning here on being strong and healthy down the stretch, to give this team a chance to move forward," Locke said.
Pirates: Bucs continue roster expansion
With the expansion to 40-man rosters on Monday, the Pirates added catcher Tony Sanchez and pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stolmy Pimental to the active roster, but they are not done yet.
With Triple-A Indianapolis finishing its season on Monday, more players are expected to arrive Tuesday.
The Pirates still have 12 roster spots they could fill, and manager Clint Hurdle expects them to be taken shortly.
"I anticipate some more guys joining us [Tuesday]," Hurdle said.
Cardinals: Carpenter gets day off
Few things are assured, but for most of this season, Matt Carpenter's name in the lineup has been one of them.
The third baseman had played 133 of the Cardinals' 136 games before Monday, when Matheny gave him a day off.
"I know he's been pushing and kind of just grinding through right now," Matheny said. "After the game, he was wiped. I made the decision last night. I think he slept a little better."
However, the Cardinals expect Carpenter to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
"He's going to continue to [be productive], but to keep throwing him out there, I think, is really almost putting him in a position where we could potentially get him hurt," Matheny said. "He's never one of the guys that would come in and ask for a day. That's just our job. We have to keep our antennae up to see who needs it."
• The Cardinals are moving Justin Masterson, whom they acquired on July 30, to the bullpen after six starts with the team. Masterson had a 2-3 record with a 7.90 ERA in those six starts.
Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.