Cardinals try to even set with Braves

Two teams with 20 wins apiece get together again tonight in the Gateway City, as the St. Louis Cardinals entertain the Atlanta Braves in the second installment of a three-game series from Busch Stadium.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals suffered a 9-7 loss in 12 innings last night when Jason Heyward cracked a two-run homer in the top of the inning and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel closed the door in the bottom half. Kyle McClellan served up the home run to Heyward and was saddled with the loss, while starter Jaime Garcia fared no better, allowing five runs -- four earned -- and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Carlos Beltran continued to tear it up with four hits, including two homers and a triple, and drove in four runs. Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter both went deep for St. Louis, which had won four in a row and still sits 3 1/2 games in front of Cincinnati for the NL Central lead. Beltran extended his hitting streak to six games. He has five homers and 13 RBI in that time.

"It was certainly a tough one but the guys fought hard to get us back in that game. We had some opportunities to finish it off but we just couldn't make it happen," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who won two World Series titles with the club, had his No. 10 jersey retired in a pre-game ceremony. It was the 12th number to be retired by the Cardinals organization.

St. Louis will resume its five-game homestand tonight and is 8-5 at Busch Stadium this season. The Chicago Cubs are scheduled to visit the Cardinals for two games early next week.

Adam Wainwright seems to have righted himself and will take the mound for St. Louis tonight in hopes of nailing down his third straight win. Wainwright was 0-3 with a 7.32 ERA in his first four starts before recording consecutive victories over Pittsburgh and Houston.

Wainwright recently held the Astros to a run on seven hits and a walk over seven innings of work and fanned a season high-tying seven batters. He improved to 2-3 in six starts on the season and lowered his ERA to 5.61. He is 1-2 in three home starts this season and has yet to lose in his career against the Braves, going 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA in six starts.

The righty has pitched at least six innings in each of his last three starts.

Atlanta improved to 5-2 on its nine-game road trip with Friday's heroics and is one-half game behind Washington for the NL East lead.

Heyward had the big blast in the 12th inning and Dan Uggla also homered for the Braves, who got three hits and a run scored from Michael Bourn. Mike Minor started for Atlanta and was banged around for six runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Veteran Livan Hernandez earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief and Kimbrel registered his 11th save with two K's in the 12th.

"We did a great job as a team picking everybody up. This was a total team win tonight and those are fun," said Uggla.

Taking the ball for the Braves tonight will be Brandon Beachy, who is 3-0 in his last five starts and will make his seven appearance of the season. Beachy has allowed two runs in each of his previous three starts and no more than two in any outing this season.

Beachy lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed a pair of runs in Sunday's 7-2 win at Colorado, as he scattered four hits, struck out five and tied a season high with three walks. The right-hander is 3-1 with one of the top ERA's in the game at 1.62. He did not record a decision in his only start against St. Louis back on April 30 last season in a 3-2 loss. He held the Cardinals to two runs in seven innings that day and fanned five batters.

Atlanta and St. Louis are meeting for the first time since the Cardinals took five of six encounters a year ago. St. Louis is 11-4 in the past 15 matchups between the two ballclubs. The Braves snapped a seven-game slide at Busch Stadium with last night's win.