The Cardinals play the final leg of a nine-game homestand after taking two of three from the first-place Brewers to begin the week. With Wednesday's 2-0 win over Milwaukee, coupled with the Brewers loss to the Phillies last night, St. Louis is eight games off the top spot in the NL Central.
The Cards also face a deficit of 7 1/2 games for the wild card lead after the Braves swept a doubleheader with the Mets on Thursday. That makes a sweep of this set vital for St. Louis.
Chris Carpenter stepped up for his club in Wednesday, tossing a four-hitter for his first shutout in exactly two years. He walked two and struck out five.
"I don't even know what the numbers are, I just know tonight was an important game to win," Carpenter said. "We're going to go out all the way to the end."
Rafael Furcal homered and Yadier Molina added a sacrifice fly for the Cardinals, who won two of three over the Braves in Atlanta back on April 29- May 1 and have won eight of the past 11 meetings overall.
The Braves avoided their first four-game losing streak of the season by taking two from the Mets yesterday. Atlanta was swept in three games by Philadelphia prior to the twinbill, marking the first time this year it was swept in a series of at least three games.
The Braves overcame Mike Minor allowing a grand slam to New York's Jason Bay to win the first game, 6-5. Freddie Freeman had three hits, including a two- run double, and Chipper Jones added a solo homer.
Atlanta was a bit more stingy in the nightcap, riding 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball from Julio Teheran in his first major league win, a 5-1 decision. Jones and David Ross both drove in two runs to back the young hurler.
"This was a whole team out here today," said Ross. "Guys pitched well, played well, played good defense. It was nice to get out of here winning two games after that series in Philly."
Atlanta calls on another young starter tonight in Randall Delgado, who makes the fourth start of his major league career.
Delgado was brought up from the minors on Sunday to face the Dodgers and got a no-decision, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks in five innings. It was the 21-year-old righty's first start in the big leagues since he took a no-hitter into a meeting with the Giants on Aug. 16 in a no-decision.
Delgado is 0-1 with a 4.20 earned run average on the season.
Pitching on his 28th birthday, Edwin Jackson draws the start for the Cardinals.
The right-hander has won three of his last four decisions and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in six straight outings. He is coming off a no- decision versus the Reds on Sunday as he allowed a pair of runs over seven innings of a 3-2 extra-inning loss.
Jackson is 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts since being acquired by the Cards in a trade and will make his second career start against Atlanta. He has yet to post a decision in three previous meetings with a 5.00 ERA.