Adam Wainwright will try to secure a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Cardinals ace eyes his NL-leading 16th victory in the finale of a three-game set at Busch Stadium.
It has been another outstanding season for the two-time All-Star. Wainwright is 15-7 in 27 starts this season, ranking second in the league in innings pitched with 198 2/3 and fourth with a 2.58 earned run average.
The righty hurled a season-high 128 pitches to notch his fifth complete game of the season and 16th of his career last time out, beating the Atlanta Braves on Friday. He scattered a run and six hits while striking out nine to no walks.
It marked the seventh straight start he has gone at least seven innings, a mark he has hit in 22 starts this year.
"It has been a little while since I went a full nine, always good to do it," said Wainwright. "I felt like our team needed it tonight and we beat a very tough team, a very tough pitcher and we're excited to come away with a win."
The 31-year-old has split two meetings with the Reds this year, going seven innings in both games. Wainwright is 5-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 18 lifetime encounters, including 13 starts.
The Cardinals kicked off a stretch of 13 straight games versus the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates with Monday's opener. By taking the first two games of this set, they have padded their edge over the Pirates to 1 1/2 games for first place in the NL Central while moving 4 1/2 games clear of the Reds.
St. Louis banged out 11 hits in last night's 6-1 victory and got an RBI from five different players. That was more than enough for Joe Kelly, who lasted six innings and gave up eight hits and three walks while allowing just one run -- a solo homer by Shin-Soo Choo.
Kelly is 6-0 in eight starts since joining the rotation on July 6.
"It's just hard to complain with what he did today," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. "He came out with a lot of confidence again."
Cincinnati starter Mat Latos had allowed just three runs in 30 1/3 innings in August coming into the start, but the Cardinals tagged him for four runs over six-plus frames.
The Reds are just 4-10 in meetings with St. Louis this season and 3-25-2 in 30 series in St. Louis since 2003.
"This is just the way baseball goes," said Latos. "It is frustrating but they're a good team and things aren't falling for us as of late."
Despite Choo's 100th career homer, the Reds have lost three straight and four of their last five overall. They lead in the chase for the NL's second wild card spot by five games.
Homer Bailey hopes to salvage this finale for the Reds and is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA in five starts since losing four in a row from July 8-26. That skid came right on the heels of his no-hitter versus San Francisco to begin the month.
Bailey logged a quality start on Friday versus Milwaukee, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks over six innings. He did not get a decision in his club's 6-4 loss.
The 27-year-old righty is 8-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts this season and has lost both of his outings versus the Cardinals in 2013. He has given up 11 runs and four homers over 10 1/3 innings over those games.
In 15 career meetings with St. Louis, Bailey is 3-9 with a 5.61 ERA.