Streaking right-hander Kyle Lohse takes the mound against a two-time Cy Young Award winner when the St. Louis Cardinals open a three- game weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Lohse, a 33-year-old Californian, won his sixth straight decision and improved to a stellar 12-2 on the season in his last start on Aug. 5, defeating Milwaukee, 3-0, with six innings of scoreless four-hit ball.
He's unbeaten in nine straight starts since a 3-2 interleague loss to Kansas City back on June 15 and has pitched seven innings of more in six of the subsequent outings while slightly trimming his earned run average from 2.98 to 2.79.
Lohse last met the Phillies on May 25 in St. Louis and emerged with a no- decision after allowing two earned runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings of a game the Cardinals ultimately lost, 5-3.
Lifetime against Philadelphia, he's 3-4 in 11 starts with a 3.38 ERA across 66 2/3 innings.
The Phillies counter with long-time dual-league ace Roy Halladay, who's struggled this season to maintain the level that saw him named the American League's best pitcher with Toronto in 2003 and the National League's best in 2010 with Philadelphia.
Halladay, who tossed a no-hitter in the NL playoffs in 2010, came back with a 19-6 season in 2011 and was second in Cy Young voting, but has struggled throughout this season with a Philadelphia team that's feel far below preseason expectations.
The 35-year-old Colorado native dropped three straight decisions in a winless drought that stretched between May 22 and July 29, but got to 5-6 on the year in his last start when he beat Arizona, 3-0, with seven innings of scoreless three-hit ball.
Halladay's 2-2 in five career starts against St. Louis, including an 8-3 loss on May 27 in which he gave up four runs in two innings.
He went on the disabled list following that outing and didn't return to the majors until July 17.
On Thursday in St. Louis, Adam Wainwright (10-10), coming off a complete game against Milwaukee, held the San Francisco Giants to one run on five hits and struck out seven in seven innings of a 3-1 win.
The 30- year-old, who missed all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery, is now 3-1 in his last five starts with a 1.75 earned run average and has lowered his ERA below 4.00 for the first time since April 7.
"Working off a good-located fastball, you can do a whole lot of stuff with your off-speed stuff," Wainwright said. "It starts with that good heater, down in the zone. It's still the best pitch in baseball."
Jon Jay picked up his fourth straight multi-hit game and scored a run for the Cardinals, who have won five of their last seven and salvaged a four-game split.
On Wednesday in Philadelphia, Dan Uggla's three-run double in the seventh inning helped the Atlanta Braves take a 12-6 win over the Phillies in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Ryan Howard hit a three-run home run while Jimmy Rollins added a solo homer, two RBI and two runs scored for the Phillies, who had won three of four coming into the game.
Kyle Kendrick was torched for six runs on seven hits over just 3 1/3 innings. Antonio Bastardo (2-4) was handed the loss for giving up three runs in the seventh.
"They had a good approach but I wasn't throwing strikes at all," Kendrick said. "I couldn't get ahead and threw too many pitches. Just a bad night all around."
The Phillies took three of four games from St. Louis in their initial series of 2012, from May 24-27 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won last year's series, 6-3.