The Cardinals increased their hold on the National League's first Wild Card spot on Saturday night while moving within a half-game of first place in the NL Central, creating an advantage they hope to build on as they send Justin Masterson to the mound.
Masterson hopes for some improvement as he has compiled a 6.30 ERA in four starts since being traded by Cleveland to St. Louis. He gave up four earned runs in five frames on Aug. 18 against the slumping Reds.
"A couple steps forward, maybe a half-step back," Masterson said. "But now we'll continue to leap forward into the next one."
Philadelphia could take a large leap forward if Jerome Williams pitches the club to a victory on Sunday. If the Phillies win, they'll claim back-to-back series wins for the first time since April 21-27.
Williams seems to be a prime candidate to get the job done as he has flourished since joining Philly. He is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two turns, holding the Mariners to one run on three hits in seven innings on Aug. 18 in his most recent outing.
Williams credits catcher Carlos Ruiz for his resurgence after the right-hander posted a 6.71 ERA in 28 combined starts with the Astros and the Rangers.
"We're just using the same weapons that I have but just moving the ball everywhere and anywhere. With [Ruiz] behind the plate, I'm not shaking [him off] at all," Williams said. "I'm trusting him and he's been around a lot and I'm just going to trust him. I was hard-headed [with Houston and Texas]. I wanted to do it my way and my way got me away from two teams. And right now, I'm with this team, and it's night and day."
Phillies: Revere red-hot with bat
Once June turned to July, Ben Revere heated up. The Phillies outfielder is batting .346 (64-for-185) with 21 runs scored since the beginning of last month.
However, Revere could stand to exhibit a little more patience at the plate as he has walked only twice in 190 plate appearances since July 1. He has only 10 walks all season, six fewer than the 16 bases on balls he earned in 2013.
Cardinals: Peralta putting together stellar all-around season
Not only has Jhonny Peralta provided pop to the St. Louis lineup by extending his single-season franchise record for home runs by a shortstop with 18, but he has demonstrated plenty of skill with the leather.
Although Peralta has committed 10 errors -- his most since 2009 -- he entered Saturday tied for seventh in the Majors with 16 Defensive Runs Saved in 2014.
• Revere has faced Masterson more than any of his Phillies teammates, hitting .207 (6-for-29) against him with three RBIs and two strikeouts.
• If St. Louis can win on Sunday, it will improve its road winning percentage to .500 at 32-32.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.