Lefty Cole Hamels seeks his first victory of 2013 when the Philadelphia Phillies host the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Hamels, a 17-game winner last season, opened the year with consecutive losses at Atlanta and at home to Kansas City while allowing 13 runs on 16 hits in just 10 2/3 innings of work.
He pitched better, but still got a no-decision, in the Phillies' 2-1 loss at Miami in his last start on April 13, allowing three hits and a run in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
The effort lowered his earned run average from 10.97 to 7.56.
Hamels is 2-3 in nine lifetime meetings with the Cardinals, while allowing a .225 batting average and striking out 56 batters in 55 innings.
He'll be opposed by 31-year-old Georgia native Adam Wainwright, who comes off his best outing of the young season.
Wainwright improved to 2-0 in three starts on April 13 when he pitched a four- hit shutout over the Milwaukee Brewers while notching the 12th complete game of his 154-start career.
He didn't walk a batter and struck out 12, which is how many strikeouts he'd recorded through two previous starts in April - while beating San Francisco and losing to Arizona.
Wainwright, who is 3-1 in nine career meetings with the Phillies, will try to get the Cardinals back on track Thursday after they were shut down by A.J. Burnett in a 5-0 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday.
Carlos Beltran's double in the seventh broke up Burnett's no-hit bid and was the only hit St. Louis recorded.
Shelby Miller (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk for the Cardinals, who have lost just two of their last seven.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Their guy was just a little bit better."
Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Philadelphia lost Tuesday's suspended game then was crushed in the regularly scheduled series finale, falling, 11-2.
The Phillies scored just 10 runs on a disappointing 2-4 road trip.
"Sometimes you go through periods where you don't hit," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Freddy Galvis accounted for Wednesday's offense with a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Justin Freeman, but by that time the outcome was already decided.
John Lannan (0-1) was knocked out in the second as the veteran right-hander was tagged for six runs on eight hits.
The Phillies won five of seven games between the teams in 2012, a year after the Cardinals had won the season series, 6-3.