Lackey tries to pitch Cards to series win

( - John Lackey tries to string back-to-back wins together for the first time this season on Wednesday when the St. Louis Cardinals play the rubber match of their three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.

Lackey was brilliant against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, as he scattered five hits and struck out nine over seven scoreless innings to improve to 3-3, while lowering his ERA to 2.83.

"I feel like I'm kind of building on some starts and getting stronger," Lackey said. "I have felt pretty good. I feel like strength-wise and (the ability to) bounce back, it's been a nice run. But I have a long way to go."

In 10 home starts since being acquired from Boston last season Lackey has posted a 1.83 ERA.

"As far as what we saw last year and how he's throwing right now, it's just much better stuff," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "He's got the velocity. He's got location with his fastball. He's got a slider, you can see he's getting a lot of swing and misses from. He's got the deception. Everything is coming out of the same release point and slot. All that put together and just being able to locate when he gets into trouble, it has been a great combination to have."

Lackey has faced the Brewers four times and is 3-1 against them with a 3.86 ERA.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, turns to righty Jimmy Nelson, who is 2-5 with a 3.90 ERA and has dropped four of his last five decisions. Nelson did not get a decision on Friday against Arizona, as he allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of his team's 7-5 loss.

Nelson has lost all three times he has faced the Cardinals and has pitched to a 10.24 ERA in 9 2/3 innings against them.

St. Louis evened this series on Tuesday, as Mark Reynolds had the only RBI to back a stellar outing from Lance Lynn in the Cardinals' 1-0 win.

Lynn (4-4) was brilliant in his outing, scattering five hits and striking out five in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.

"Not many guys can get away with what (Lynn's) doing but he is locating it really well," Matheny said. "He had a real nice rhythm all the way through."

Matt Holliday had his streak of reaching base safely to begin the season halted at 45 games after he was ejected in an 0-for-3 effort. The streak was the fifth longest to begin a season in MLB history and his 47 straight games dating back to last season was eight off Stan Musial's club record set in 1943.

Tyler Cravy (0-1), making his MLB debut, was charged with one run on four hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.

Milwaukee, which won Monday's opener by the same score, has now lost eight of 10.

St. Louis has won five of eight from the Brewers this season and has taken the last six series from them.