|Cardinals sending Pirates down wrong path|
The St. Louis Cardinals will look to secure a series win against the host Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday.
The Cardinals have won the first two games of this four-game road series, as well as three in a row overall, six of their past seven and nine of 11 to keep themselves in the hunt for a National League Central title.
Going in the opposite direction are the Pirates, who have lost three straight, five of six and nine of 11 and are flirting with finishing last in the NL Central.
St. Louis is 7-4 against Pittsburgh this season, including 4-0 at PNC Park. In this series, both games have been decided by one run, and a homer each night by Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt has been pivotal.
In the Pirates' 4-3 loss on Tuesday, Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth but couldn't score.
"I mean, it's an opportunity to do something significant, and it got away from us," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've had a little bit of that going on in the second half, more so than we had maybe all the way back to April."
On Wednesday, St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright (6-7, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righty Jordan Lyles (5-6, 4.91).
Wainwright allowed season worsts with nine hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings Friday at Cincinnati. He said he asked his teammates to pick him up after he gave up seven runs in the fourth inning -- and they did.
St. Louis used a 10-run sixth to beat the Reds 12-11, and Wainwright got a no-decision despite the poor outing. So what could have been a start that stung going into Wednesday instead left him pumped.
"As soon as we got a little momentum, it was like you could feel it," Wainwright said. "I was in the training room and I could feel it. I was like, 'Something's fixing to happen here.'"
Wainwright is 13-7 with a 4.34 ERA in 39 career games (33 starts) against Pittsburgh, including no decisions and a 4.09 ERA in two starts this year.
Lyles has allowed one or no earned runs in seven of his 16 starts, but he has lost his past five decisions and has allowed at least one homer in seven straight starts.
On Friday, Lyles finally felt closer to the version of himself that won five of his first six decisions. He gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven against the Philadelphia Phillies, although he did not get a decision in a 6-1 loss.
"Overall, obviously, I did much better than the last handful of outings," he said. "It's good to get back on track and get back to where we were previously. Went through a lot of lows there recently. Hopefully, (it was) a sign of things to come and what direction we're headed."
Against St. Louis, Lyles is 1-3 with a 4.33 ERA in 10 career appearances, half of them starts. This season, he gave up one run in six innings in a 2-1 win on the road on May 11.
The Pirates will get some bullpen help Wednesday. Setup man Keone Kela, who has been out since May 6 because of right shoulder inflammation, is expected to be activated.
Kela was recalled from a minor league rehab assignment Monday, but Pittsburgh immediately suspended him for two games -- Monday and Tuesday -- for unspecified contract violations.
--Field Level Media