St. Louis had its season-long five-game winning streak snapped in Miami on Wednesday, and will send Adam Wainwright to the hill against Pittsburgh. Wainwright has gone seven innings in his last three starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of those appearances.
Wainwright picked up his first win of the season on May 1 in St. Louis against the Pirates. The right-hander tossed seven innings, giving up four runs on five hits while walking one and fanning six. Wainwright was stung by a pair two-run homers by Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata.
Wainwright will have the offensive support of a Cardinals lineup that's been rolling lately. During St. Louis' five-game winning streak, the Cards were hitting .458 (27-for-59) with runners in scoring position. From June 1-21, the team went 33-for-142 (.232) in those situations.
"I think we just went through a lull like every team does. It wasn't going to continue very long," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "If you look at the numbers, guys have been getting their hits, it's just periods you go when you're just not getting them with men in scoring position. If you can hit, you can hit. We've got guys that aren't afraid of big situations, so it's going to equal out."
The Cardinals will face Pirates right-hander Kevin Correia. Correia has been in solid in June after losing four out of his five starts in May. The righty has a 3.53 ERA this month, including three starts with two earned runs or less allowed.
Coming off a four-game split with the Phillies in Philadelphia, the Pirates know this series will present a number of challenges.
"We lost the first two, so we couldn't do any better than we have done [by winning the final two games of the series]," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Going into St. Louis ... we've got some momentum. We've won two games. These two wins, will they help us in St. Louis? I don't think so. We have to start all over. We're going to get matched up against with three pretty good pitchers, so it should be a pretty good series."
Cardinals: Carpenter feels good during long toss
Right-hander Chris Carpenter had a productive long-toss session on Wednesday. Carpenter said he has no immediate plan for the next step in his recovery. He said he plans to reevaluate the situation when the Cardinals return home on Friday.
Entering Wednesday's game in Miami, the Cardinals had scored 43 runs and collected 58 hits in their last five games. St. Louis was averaging 3.5 runs per game over its first 19 games of June, with an 8-11 record.
Outfielder Carlos Beltran is one hit shy of 2,000 for his career.
Pirates: A lift at leadoff
Drew Sutton opened Thursday afternoon's game against the Phillies with an infield single that kick-started a five-run inning. Sutton, playing left field, finished 1-for-3 with a walk in a 5-4 victory and is 4-for-8 with two walks in a Pirates uniform.
Hurdle, searching for someone to get on base at the top of the order, could give Sutton an extended shot in that spot after the club claimed him off waivers from the Rays on Sunday. Pirates leadoff hitters, primarily Alex Presley and Tabata, had compiled a .268 on-base percentage through Wednesday.
"We've given [Presley and Tabata] a number of at-bats, and you have to be able to find your way and produce as well," Hurdle said.
Ten of the Pirates' next 13 games are against NL Central opponents.
Current Pirates hitters own a .274 batting average off Wainwright. Andrew McCutchen is 7-for-18 with a triple and a pair of doubles; Casey McGehee is just 1-for-15.
Wainwright is 8-3 with a 4.79 ERA in 14 career starts against Pittsburgh.