St. Louis Cardinals Vs. San Diego Padres: Cards Open Pivotal West Coast Trip

PITTSBURGH - MAY 08: Jaime Garcia #54 of the St Louis Cardinals pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on May 8, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jaime Garcia starts for the Cardinals on Monday, as St. Louis begins a pivotal stretch through southern California.

The St. Louis Cardinals begin a trip through southern California on Monday, as they open up a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.

Jaime Garcia will start for St. Louis on Monday night, as they look to start the road trip on a positive note. Garcia has been inconsistent since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 19, making two good starts, and two poor ones. In his most recent outing, Garcia picked up the win, pitching seven and 1/3 innings of work, limiting the Mets to one run on nine hits.

For the season, Garcia is 4-6 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Opponents are hitting a healthy .300 off Garcia this season.

St. Louis' offense will face off against left hander Eric Stults. Stults has pitched very well recently, allowing just one run over his last three starts -- a span of 19 innings. To date, Stults is 5-2, with a 2.38 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Despite his success, Stults has only struck out 35 in 75 and 2/3 innings on the season.

The Cardinals' offense might get a boost on Monday night, as David Freese is hoping to return to the lineup, after missing Sunday's game with a tweaked ankle.

After the three-game series in San Diego, the Cardinals will head to Los Angeles for a four-game set against the Dodgers -- a series that could possibly make or break both teams. St. Louis currently leads the Dodgers by one and a half games for the second wild card spot, but are two up in the loss column.

First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. CT. Televised coverage can be found on FOX Sports Midwest.

For more on the Cardinals, check out Viva el Birdos and join the discussion.

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