Through his first five starts of the season, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Sonny Gray posted a 0.89 ERA while settling into his lead role in the starting rotation.

Then Gray (5-2, 3.05 ERA) allowed 11 runs on 15 hits in 11 innings in his last two outings.

He will try to get back on track Monday when the Cardinals open their three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Cardinals could use a big outing from Gray after taxing their bullpen in Sunday's 11-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox. They needed relievers Chris Roycroft, Ryan Fernandez and Nick Robertson to combine for six innings after starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore retired just nine batters.

This came after the Cardinals needed relievers to cover seven innings during their previous two games.

"It does complicate things for the 'pen a little bit because you end up overextending guys," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol told repprters. "You're asking them to do more than they need to do. They are out there for extra outs and extra innings.

"It puts them in a tough sport for that game and for the following days as well. It is tough. I don't have a great answer for you."

The Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Angels 7-6 in Gray's start last Tuesday after Marmol left him in to work out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. Gray struck out Nolan Schanuel to strand the runners and salvage his outing.

"Just get one guy and give ourselves a chance," Gray said after allowing five runs in six innings. "Pitching to win the game. That was where I went to. No matter what has happened, you're not going to be overall thrilled with this outing in general.

"You talk about pitching to win the game. This is a moment where you can let all this other stuff go behind you and just pitch to win the game right here where you are in this moment. That's kind of where I went. No matter what has happened, pitch to win the game right here."

The Cardinals had won five of six games before their loss on Sunday. They are catching the Orioles coming off three victories in their past four games, including Sunday's 6-3 victory defeat of the Seattle Mariners.

Gray is 6-6 with a 4.58 ERA in 14 career starts against Baltimore.

The Orioles will start Dean Kremer (3-3, 3.72 ERA), who suffered a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in his most recent start on May 12 despite striking out 10 batters, which tied his season high. He got six called third strikes with his improved sinker.

"I'd say it's definitely come a long way, being able to not just throw it arm side but also glove side and feel comfortable to front hip lefties with it," Kremer said. "A step in the right direction."

He allowed six runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. Prior to that, Kremer had won three consecutive starts while allowing just four runs in 18 1/3 innings.

In his one career start against the Cardinals, Kremer allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings of an 11-5 win on Sept. 11, 2023. He didn't figure into the decision.

--Field Level Media

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