This week's four-game set represents the last scheduled matchup between the Cardinals and the Reds, but if the standings are any indication, it won't be the final time these two teams oppose each other this year.
The Cardinals and Reds hold down the National League's Wild Card playoff spots, both trailing the Pirates for the NL Central lead. Cincinnati defeated St. Louis, 1-0, on Tuesday to pull within 1 1/2 games of the Cardinals for second. The Reds are 3 1/2 games back from the first-place Bucs, who beat the Brewers, 4-3, on Tuesday.
But if you ask Zack Cozart, the Reds aren't calculating all the various playoff scenarios or crunching the numbers for a Wild Card berth. They're honed in on one goal.
"We want to win the division. That's all we care about," Cozart said. "We're within striking distance, as inconsistently as we've played. You see it every year, a team gets hot at the end and kind of carries that momentum through the playoffs. That's what we want to do."
And the Reds are hoping that hot streak is brewing, with back-to-back victories over the rival Cards this week.
"You know the end is near and you can see the finish line just around the corner," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "Every end is different. Some years this time you're out in front, some years you're trying to catch opposing teams and some years you have no chance, which really makes it hard to go out there every day.
"This makes it easier to go out there every day when you know you got a chance to do something at the end. That's what we play for and that's what we're here for."
The Cardinals are fighting to avoid a fall to third place, having dropped five of their last six games, all to divisional opponents Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals will have to fend off the pesky Reds if they hope to keep pace with Pittsburgh atop the division.
Cardinals: Reinforcements arrive for St. Louis
• St. Louis called up a host of reinforcements Tuesday, as rookie pitchers Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons and position players Ryan Jackson, Brock Peterson and Audry Perez joined the active roster.
Those six, in addition to outfielder Adron Chambers, who was recalled Sunday, will provide depth and fresh options as the regular season winds down.
"We're going to go with the guys who give us the best chance to win," manager Mike Matheny said. "They give us a little more flexibility. They've earned it. We'll give them a chance and see what they can do."
Reds: Arroyo looks to rebound, go deep versus Cards
The Reds will send Bronson Arroyo to the mound Wednesday. Arroyo was knocked around by the Cardinals on Aug. 2, surrendering seven runs on eight hits and a walk in just 3 2/3 innings.
And on Sunday, Arroyo again suffered from early struggles, as he allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk, unable to escape the fourth against the Rockies.
"With a lineup like [the Cardinals'], when you give up four runs in the first inning, as good as they can be and as much as they grind at-bats, it's very difficult to kind of keep those guys down," Arroyo said after the loss to St. Louis last month. "Because when they get momentum going, they really start to turn the heat up."
• Shelby Miller's 154 strikeouts rank second among all rookies and 17th in the National League. Miller will make his 27th start for the Cardinals, and second against Cincinnati, on Wednesday.
• Top Reds prospect Billy Hamilton made his much anticipated Major League debut Tuesday, pinch-running for Ryan Ludwick in the seventh. Hamilton immediately flashed his speed, stealing second base and scoring his first run on a double from Todd Frazier.
• Right fielder Carlos Beltran and catcher Yadier Molina were back in the lineup Tuesday for St. Louis. Beltran missed two games with lower back tightness, and Molina exited Monday's contest early with a sore left wrist.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.