The St. Louis Cardinals shoot for back-to-back victories for the first time since June 19-20, when they close out a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics in the Golden State Sunday afternoon.
The Cardinals have been one of the elite teams in the National League the last several years, but they now find themselves sitting in second place in the Central Division, one game behind a blistering Pittsburgh club which has won eight in a row and nine of the last 10.
On Saturday, St. Louis won for just the second time in the last seven outings with a 7-1 triumph.
Picking up his 11th win of the season on Saturday, Adam Wainwright went the distance for the visitors as he allowed just s single run on five hits and a couple of walks. Wainwright struck out eight as he lowered his ERA to just 2.22 on the campaign.
Much of the offense for the Cardinals was offered up by Matt Adams who cranked out two home runs and finished with four RBI, while scoring three times in the lopsided victory. Allen Craig responded with two hits and two walks as well.
"Big day for Matt," manager Mike Matheny said after the game. "He's just got some different power. It's a lofting power that you don't see every day. He has a nice approach, and when he doesn't start overthinking it, he has a real nice idea at the plate."
Oakland starter Jarrod Parker lasted only 3 2/3 innings due to injury, turning the game over to Jesse Chavez who allowed four runs on just three hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
"It was just something where I threw the pitch and it got tight on me," Parker said of his early exit. "It happened so fast, I can't really tell you what happened. It's something we'll figure out in the next few days."
Derek Norris notched two of the five hits recorded by the A's, but it was Josh Donaldson who doubled and scored in the eighth to prevent Wainwright from posting the shutout.
Even though they had a three-game win streak stopped, the A's are still only a half game out of first in the American League West, trailing a Texas team which lost on Saturday as well.
Taking the ball today for the Cardinals before they move on to Anaheim on Tuesday will be Jake Westbrook as he seeks his third straight victory. The right-hander out of Athens, Georgia has actually won four of his last five decisions overall dating back to April 10.
Most recently Westbrook settled in against Houston on Tuesday and made it through six innings, giving up four runs on four hits and a couple of walks, while striking out three, helping to lead the squad to a 13-5 triumph in Texas.
Westbrook, who broke into the majors with the New York Yankees in 2000 and then spent eight seasons with Cleveland, has had quite a bit of experience against Oakland, but has just a 5-6 record and a 4.00 ERA through 15 appearances to show for his efforts.
Shooting for his first win in nearly a month, Tommy Milone is scheduled to counter for the A's in this contest. The left-hander has dropped two of his last four appearances, although Oakland won his most recent performance on Tuesday, 7-3, even though he did not earn a decision.
Milone had some control issues in the meeting versus Cincinnati five days ago, issuing four walks and allowing six hits in 4 2/3 innings, but all of that led to just three earned runs.
Now in just his third major league campaign, Milone is getting his first-ever look at St. Louis today.
The Cardinals, who now head to Anaheim to contend with the Angels, have won the head-to-head series with A's each year they've met since 2004, including 2007 and 2010. St. Louis is now 130-116 all-time in interleague play, the A's 162-133 following the decision on Saturday.