Adam Wainwright calmed a lot of fears in St. Louis with an excellent outing last time out. He goes for his 17th victory of the season on Friday night when the Cardinals play the first of three straight games against the Seattle Mariners.
Wainwright struggled over back-to-back losses to the Cincinnati Reds, allowing a total of 15 runs over eight innings of work. That came against one of the teams chasing the Cardinals for the top spot in the NL Central, but the righty rebounded against Pittsburgh last Saturday.
Wainwright held the Pirates to just two hits and struck out eight over seven scoreless innings, moving to 16-9 with a 3.03 earned run average in 30 starts this season. The 32-year-old is tied for second in the league with 195 strikeouts and is looking to join Washington's Jordan Zimmermann as the only 17-game winners in the NL.
He'll do so against a Mariners club he has faced just once before, picking up a win at home on June 14, 2010 with seven innings of three-run ball.
St. Louis fell into a tie with Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central with Thursday's 5-3 loss to Milwaukee. The Cardinals had a five-game winning streak snapped as Joe Kelly allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and a walk over five innings.
Kelly came into the start 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 11 previous outings.
"My stuff felt good, I just missed on a couple pitches," Kelly said.
The Mariners are one setback away from securing their fourth straight losing season. They have dropped four in a row and are 3-8 in September.
Seattle was swept in three games by the Houston Astros to begin the week, falling 6-1 in Wednesday's finale. Brandon Maurer was pegged with the loss after yielding five runs over three innings.
"When (Maurer) gets into trouble he is not able to control the damage and he can't stop it. It dominos on him," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Kendrys Morales hit a solo homer for Seattle, his fourth home run in eight games.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma faces the Cardinals for the first time in his career and brings a 12-6 record and 2.97 ERA over 30 starts this year into the outing.
Iwakuma has a 2.76 ERA over his last five outings, winning the first two before a stretch of three straight no-decisions. The 32-year-old gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks over 5 2/3 frames versus the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
The Cardinals are 6-3 all-time versus the Mariners, winning five of six in St. Louis.