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ATL@PHI: Manuel on Worley's pitching in loss

Between a pregame stomach virus and the end to the Phillies' 257-game sellout streak, Vance Worley's last start on Aug. 6 was bound to end poorly. Indeed it did after the 24-year-old right-hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits in a 6-1 loss. On Sunday afternoon in the rubber match against the Cardinals, Worley will be taking the mound looking to rebound from one of the worst outings of his young career.

Worley's stomach virus popped up 30 minutes before his pregame bullpen session, and it played a significant part in leading to his third career start that lasted fewer than 3 2/3 innings. The other two occurrences both came last season, on Aug. 18, 2011, against the D-backs and May 29, 2011, at the Mets.

"I couldn't get it out," Worley said after his last start. "It seemed like every time I went out there and I tried to let loose today, it didn't go where I wanted it. Neither did my stomach. I went out there with heart today."

But Worley finished last season third in National League Rookie of the Year voting, sporting an 11-3 record and 3.01 ERA. This year, Worley has been less effective while pitching through a bone chip in his elbow, posting a 6-7 record with a 3.83 ERA. In five July starts, he went 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA.

From the opposite dugout, meanwhile, the Cards will send out 25-year-old right-hander Lance Lynn. At 13-5, Lynn is tied with the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg for fifth in the NL with 13 wins. In his first year as a starter, Lynn has enjoyed a 3.52 ERA while the Cardinals continue to stay alive in the NL Wild Card race.

Beginning games on a strong note has been especially difficult for the young starter, as 18 of the 53 runs Lynn has allowed this season have come in the first inning. Lynn also has a 7.36 ERA in the opening frame, his highest of any inning.

Cardinals: Furcal playing sharp defense despite back issues
Rafael Furcal has battled through injuries for the majority of the season, though his defensive abilities have kept him on the field despite diminished offensive production. After hitting .319 with a .816 OPS over the first 54 games of the season, Furcal's average has fallen to .263.

But given the leadership and defense Furcal brings to the Cards' infield, manager Mike Matheny hasn't been able to take his shortstop out of the lineup.

"Once again, the priority is what he's doing defensively all season long," Matheny said. "Offensively, we'll take what we can get. It would be nice to see what we saw early on, but we can't ask for him to do that all season long. The running part is day to day. The fielding and throwing doesn't seem to affect him as much."

Phillies: Howard warming up at the plate
After notching just three hits in his first 21 at-bats of August, Ryan Howard appears to be heating up. After his 1-for-4 game in Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Cardinals, Howard is 5-for-16 (.313) over his last four games.

Worth noting
• After Sunday's series finale with the Phillies, the Cardinals return to St. Louis for a nine-game homestand before ending the month with 10 road contests in 11 days.

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