A pair of teams in second place in their respective divisions get together for the second of a three-game interleague set Saturday at O.co Coliseum as the Oakland Athletics host the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Friday night the A's, now trailing the Texas Rangers by just a half game for the top spot in the American League West standings, put together a five- run second inning while enjoying another standout performance by a resurgent Bartolo Colon in order to register their fourth three-game win streak of the month thanks to a 6-1 triumph.
Colon worked his way through eight innings, allowing just a single run on six hits and a walk, while striking out five, as he picked up his 11th win of the campaign in 13 decisions. Already the right-hander has surpassed his entire win total from a year ago when he finished 10-9 with the A's and has his most wins since 2005 when he was 21-8 with the Angels.
Colon, who turned 40 a little more than a month ago, has won eight straight and is just the second A's pitcher since the 1991 campaign to register 11 victories before the close of June.
"I don't expect anything less now," Josh Donaldson said of Colon's performance. "He's just one of those guys who goes out there and gives us a chance to win. He's been dominant. It hasn't even been a question."
Also helping out along the way was Seth Smith who knocked in a pair of runs and Stephen Vogt, who delivered a solo home run.
One of three players to log a couple of hits for the Cardinals, who finished with a total of seven hits overall, Matt Holliday scored the only run of the game for the visitors in the top of the fifth, as the club bowed for the second straight game and fifth time in six chances.
With the setback St. Louis, which still owns the best road record in baseball (26-15) and is now one game behind a surprising Pittsburgh squad for first place in the National League Central.
Cardinals starter Shelby Miller never made it out of the second inning as he allowed five runs on six hits and a pair of walks. Instead, it was Joe Kelly who pitched the majority of the game for the visitors with one run permitted on three hits and three walks, while striking out four, through 5 1/3 innings of action.
"Every single fastball I threw as a strike was right down the middle of the plate," said Miller of his effort. "They were just good pitches to hit. This is really, really disappointing. I just didn't have it today."
As one of the more complete pitchers in the National League at this point in the season, Adam Wainwright is ready to step up and gun for his 11th win of the campaign. However, the right-hander has hit a bit of a wall in recent weeks, losing consecutive outings since enjoying a five-game win streak.
Last weekend Wainwright went up against Texas in another interleague battle, making it through 6 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six. Unfortunately, the St. Louis offense gave him little support in what turned into a 2-1 home loss.
An impressive 7-1 on the road in 2013, the Georgia native has a career record of 1-0 with eight shutout innings to his credit versus the Athletics.
Speaking of Oakland, it has youngster Jarrod Parker coming up in the rotation on Saturday. The ninth overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 draft, Parker has won four consecutive decisions as he prepares to take on the Cards for the first time.
Versus Seattle at Safeco Field last weekend, the right-hander surrendered three runs on five hits, two of those being home runs, while striking out six over seven innings, but he did not factor into the decision which ended up being a 6-3 loss for the A's.
Dating back to the 2004 campaign, this is the fourth series slated between the two clubs, with the Cardinals now owning a 7-3 mark over Oakland.