Wainwright leads Cardinals into finale with Pirates

(SportsNetwork.com) - Adam Wainwright tries to become the majors' first 16- game winner when he takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wainwright is 15-8 with a 2.52 earned run average in 26 starts and has alternated results in his last eight outings. In Friday's 5-4 loss at Philadelphia, Wainwright wasn't his dominant self and allowed all five runs -- four earned -- in six innings. He has given up three or more runs in each of the previous three starts.

The All-Star right-hander is 9-5 in 15 road starts and 10-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 25 career meetings (21 starts) with the Pirates. Wainwright is one of seven pitchers with 15 wins.

St. Louis dropped a 5-2 decision on Tuesday, as the Pirates plated three runs in the bottom of the eighth to snap a 2-2 tie. Seth Maness was responsible for allowing all three runs on Ike Davis' pinch-hit homer.

"We would have needed to steal this one," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I thought we were in a good position to do it but it didn't work."

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday extended his hit streak to eight games and starter Lance Lynn pitched well in the no-decision, allowing two runs in six innings. He struck out three and walked three for the wild card-leading Cardinals, who sit 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the NL Central lead.

St. Louis has alternated wins and losses over the past six games and will start a seven-game homestand with four matchups with the Chicago Cubs this weekend.

Meanwhile, Davis led the Pirates to their fourth win in six tries last night and Russell Martin registered three hits.

Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole struck out nine and walked one across six solid innings, charged with two runs and three hits in the no-decision. Tony Watson got the win with two scoreless innings of relief and Mark Melancon nailed down his 23rd save in the ninth.

"I thought he pitched a great ball game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Cole. "Complete control."

Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen left the game with rib discomfort, but should be able to go Wednesday. McCutchen was recently on the disabled list with a rib issue and has 20 homers and 70 RBI to go along with a .309 batting average.

Buccos infielder Pedro Alvarez left the game as well with a foot problem and will most likely miss today's finale. Alvarez is hitting .232 with 18 homers and 56 RBI this season.

Pittsburgh, which is 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot and will host Cincinnati for three games this weekend, hopes Jeff Locke can stay on track when he takes the mound Wednesday. Locke is 3-0 in his last four appearances and gave up two runs in six innings of an 8-3 win at Milwaukee on Friday.

Locke, a left-hander, is 3-1 in eight starts at PNC Park and 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals.

St. Louis has won eight of its 15 matchups with the Pirates this season.


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