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Cardinals take aim at sweep of Phillies

The first-place St. Louis Cardinals will try to sweep the Philadelphia Phillies when the clubs meet Thursday for the finale of a three- game series at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals have taken the first two tests of this set to give them three straight wins overall. However, St. Louis is still just 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central because the Pirates, who play in Washington today, have won four in a row.

After notching a 4-1 win in Tuesday's opener against the Phillies, the Cardinals earned an 11-3 rout in the second contest. Shane Robinson and Matt Adams each drove in three runs to lead the way for St. Louis.

Yadier Molina, David Freese, Matt Carpenter, Brock Peterson and Pete Kozma all contributed with an RBI and five different players had multi-hit efforts for the Cardinals, winners of five of their last six.

Jake Westbrook (7-4) recorded his fourth straight quality start, pitching seven solid innings. He was charged with nine hits and three runs, fanning two without issuing a walk.

"We just worry about the things we control. We just have to go out there and win some ball games. That is what we're focused on right now," Westbrook said.

The Phillies, meanwhile, lost their fourth straight game and fell eight games behind Atlanta for first place in the NL East.

John Lannan (2-4) was tagged for four runs on eight hits with two walks in four full frames on Wednesday. Coming into the game he held the Cardinals to two runs or fewer in seven previous starts against them.

"There are going to be games like this where I give up hits. I just have to try and limit the damage. I didn't do that tonight," Lannan said.

Carlos Ruiz, John Mayberry and Michael Martinez each drove in a run for the Phillies.

Philadelphia played Wednesday without All-Star outfielder Domonic Brown, who sat out with concussion-like symptoms. Brown will also miss Thursday's contest, but could be back in the lineup for Friday's game in Detroit.

The Cardinals hope Lance Lynn can get back on the right track when he takes the ball in Thursday's finale.

Lynn is 11-5 this season, but is coming off consecutive losses against the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. He was slammed for six runs and 11 hits in just 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs on July 13, and seven days later he allowed four runs in five innings of work versus San Diego.

The right-hander is just 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA over his last five outings. Lynn has faced the Phillies twice in his career and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in those outings. He allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings of work to beat Philadelphia back on April 20.

Kyle Kendrick had one of his worst outings of the season in his last trip to the mound, but still managed to pick up the win. The Phillies hope he can claim victory for a third straight time when he takes the hill again on Thursday.

Kendrick won his last start before the All-Star break by allowing just one run over seven innings against Washington on July 11, but his first outing after the hiatus wasn't quite as smooth.

The veteran righty was slammed for six runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings Friday against the New York Mets, but the Phillies still managed to win the game by a 13-8 score. Kendrick did strike out seven batters and walked only one.

Kendrick boasts strong career numbers against the Cardinals, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in nine games -- seven starts. He held St. Louis to two runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Cards on April 21.

The Cardinals have won four of six meetings against the Phillies this season and today's contest marks the 2013 finale between the clubs.