Cards try to extend excellent start vs. Pirates

( - Off to their best start in more than 70 years, the St. Louis Cardinals turn to John Lackey on Saturday in the second contest of their three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals, currently on a four-game winning streak, produced a walk-off win in 10 innings last night, when Matt Adams singled to left to score Jon Jay in a 2-1 final. That gave St. Louis a 16-6 record, the best start for the team since 1944 when the Cardinals won 18 of their first 24 contests.

Lackey is coming off a 4-1 loss against the Phillies on Monday when he allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings. The right-hander has made seven career starts at Busch Stadium and is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He is 1-1 all-time against the Pirates.

Francisco Liriano, who counters for the Pirates, has had some success against the Cardinals, as evidenced by his 4-1 mark and 1.98 ERA. He went 0-1 in four starts last season versus St. Louis.

The lefty produced a solid performance in a victory at Arizona last Sunday when he threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings. That was the 200th start of his career. Liriano has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last 11 starts, going back to Aug. 25, 2014. During that span, he's produced a 5-1 record with a 1.58 ERA.

Even though the Pirates have lost three of their previous four contests, their pitchers have been able to keep the ball in the park. Their pitchers have gone nine straight games and 81 innings in a row without giving up a home run and have yielded just two home runs in the last 14 games.

Today's game will be between the best two pitching staffs, in terms of current ERA. The Cardinals stand at 2.36, while the Pirates are second in the majors at 2.90.

On Friday, Jay singled with two outs and Matt Carpenter followed with a double. After an intentional walk to Matt Holliday, Adams sent a 1-1 fastball from Rob Scahill (0-2) into left for the game-winner.

"It's a great feeling. It's a good way to get Game 1 of this series," said Adams.

Randy Choate (1-0) got the win for a third of an inning in relief in the top of the 10th. Sean Rodriguez's two-out single put runners at the corners in the when Choate came on for Matt Belisle and struck out Gregory Polanco.

Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett helped his own cause with an RBI single in the sixth to break a scoreless draw. Francisco Cervelli singled to begin the frame, then Jordy Mercer laced a double into left that put both runners in scoring position. Burnett stepped in and grounded a single right back up the box for a 1-0 lead.

"Six is alright but we need to mix some sevens and eights in there and go a little further," Burnett said of the length of his outing.

The Pirates were 2-8 at Busch Stadium last season and have gone 5-15 the past two-plus seasons in St. Louis.