Wainwright squares off vs. Phils hoping for 16th victory

( - Adam Wainwright tries to become the major leagues' first 16-game winner on Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals open a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Wainwright picked up win No. 15 on Sunday against San Diego, as he held the Padres to four runs (3 earned) and seven hits in seven innings. He also struck out five batters and walked one to improve to 15-7 to go along with a 2.40 ERA.

It was Wainwright's 20th start of at least seven innings, though he's now allowed four runs in half of his six post-All-Star Game starts.

"It's been a grind for over a month now," said Wainwright, who in addition to being tied for the league lead in wins, ranks third in the National League in ERA (2.40) and innings pitched (176). "I'm about ready for it to end. I think you go through a stretch like that sometimes throughout a season. This is the opposite way of how I felt early in the season, especially the whole first half. I'm going to keep believing that I'm coming out of it, and I'm going to continue to carry my team deep into the game."

Wainwright has faced the Phillies 11 times (9 starts) and is 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

St. Louis comes into tonight's contest riding a four-game winning streak following a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds that culminated with a 7-3 win on Wednesday.

"All the wins are big right now," said Jon Jay, who went 11-for-19 over the past week. "We've seen the last few years that everything comes down to the wire. We know how important every win is."

Philadelphia also picked up a series win this week, taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners. In Wednesday's rubber match, Chase Utley singled home the go-ahead run in the fourth and Philadelphia held on to beat the Mariners, 4-3.

Cole Hamels (7-6) got the win for his five innings of work. He let in three runs and gave up nine hits, while striking out four to pick up his first win in his last four starts.

"It was a struggle for Cole," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He wasn't quite himself out there. He was up in there. He missed some pitches, but was just good enough to battle through his five innings ... It was good to have the run support behind him. The bullpen was outstanding."

Philadelphia's relievers held Seattle scoreless for the final four frames, striking out nine batters, and the Phillies won for just the third time in their last nine games.

Getting the call for the Phils on Friday will be righty Kyle Kendrick, who is 5-11 with a 4.90 ERA. Kendrick did not get a decision on Saturday in San Francisco and did not pitch well, as he allowed four runs (3 earned) in five innings of a 6-5 loss. He also seemed annoyed that manager Ryne Sandberg came to get him after just 80 pitches.

"Kendrick is a competitor. He wants to be out there all the time. I don't blame the guy for being frustrated coming out of the game. I expect that," Utley said.

Kendrick is 5-3 lifetime versus St. Louis with a 3.32 ERA in 11 games (9 starts).

Philadelphia has split four matchups with the Cards this season.