Veteran Jake Westbrook makes his return to the St. Louis Cardinals rotation on Friday night as he starts the opener of a three-game set against the Miami Marlins.
Westbrook will make his seventh start of the campaign and first since May 8 due to right elbow inflammation. He is 2-1 on the year with a 1.62 earned run average, allowing one run or fewer in four of those games.
The 35-year-old righty made a pair of rehab starts, giving up just two runs over 10 2/3 innings. He was able to log 76 pitches over seven innings on Sunday, leaving him stretched out for tonight's start.
"I feel really good right now," Westbrook said on St. Louis' website. "I feel really good with the two starts I've had. I feel really encouraged about getting up and down seven times on Sunday, and hopefully it continues to feel that way throughout the year."
Westbrook is 1-1 in six lifetime starts against the Marlins with a 2.70 ERA and will look to boost a Cardinals club that already has the best record in baseball at 43-23. St. Louis is also now in possession of the first 10-game winner this season, with Adam Wainwright reaching the mark in Thursday's 2-1 win over the New York Mets.
Wainwright pitched seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball, walking two and striking out six to win his fifth straight start. He won for the first time in Queens and didn't seem to be impacted by threatening weather that had the game in doubt.
"My whole routine was thrown off today," Wainwright said, expecting that ominous skies and a dire forecast of up to three inches of rain might push back first pitch. "I had everybody in the world tell me I had never beat the Mets in their stadium so it was something I wanted to do."
Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter drove in the St. Louis runs and Edward Mujica gave up a solo homer in the ninth before settling down to earn his 19th save of the season.
"You could foresee this being a one-run game, just with the way the weather was and with two guys with high-caliber stuff going against each other," Carpenter said following his team's fifth victory in seven games. "It was nice knowing that if we could just get one, we had a chance."
St. Louis could be forced into another tight contest tonight if Marlins starter Jose Fernandez can duplicate his last two starts, a pair of solid outings versus the Mets.
The 20-year-old rookie won at home on June 1, holding the Mets scoreless over seven innings of three-hit ball. He also struck out eight to just one walk and then did not factor into a 2-1 win on Saturday in a game that lasted 20 innings. Fernandez gave up one run on three hits and three walks in six frames of work, striking out seven.
The righty is 3-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 starts this season and will face the Cardinals for the first time.
Kevin Slowey got the win over the Mets on Saturday and returned to the hill on three days rest to face Milwaukee on Wednesday. He was not as sharp versus the Brewers, touched for six runs -- five earned -- over five innings of a 10-1 loss.
"The game had to do a whole lot less with the number of days rest and more to do with me executing pitches," said Slowey, who logged seven scoreless innings of relief over the weekend.
Giancarlo Stanton drove in the lone run for the Marlins, losers in five of their past eight.
The Cardinals have won 10 of their past 12 versus the Marlins, winning seven of eight as the road team in that span.