|11:15 AM PT12:15 PM MT1:15 PM CT2:15 PM ET14:15 ET18:15 GMT2:15 11:15 AM MST1:15 PM EST1:45 PM VEN22:15 UAE1:15 PM CT, August 13, 2017
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri Attendance: 44,534
Hot Cardinals face Braves with eye on NL Central lead
Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cardinals swept the Braves in Atlanta in May of this season, scoring 21 runs over the three games. St. Louis is 7-2 versus Atlanta since the start of last season, their second-best record versus any NL club (6-1 versus San Diego).
- The Braves were swept by the Phillies earlier this week, the third time they've been swept since the All-Star break (only the White Sox, with five times swept, have been swept more over that span).
- The Cardinals won all four of their games versus the Royals earlier this week (two at home and two on the road) to extend their win streak to six games, tied for their longest streak of the year (also May 5-10). St. Louis has outscored its opponents by 32 runs over the course of the streak (5.33 per game), while batting .309 with 29 extra-base hits.
- Matt Carpenter has posted a .441 career on-base percentage versus Atlanta, the second-highest mark among active players with 100 plate appearances versus the Braves (Joey Votto - .460). Carpenter has homered in each of his three games versus Atlanta this season; the last Cardinal to homer in four straight versus the Braves in a single season was Chick Hafey in 1928 (exactly four in a row).
- Mike Foltynewicz struck out a career-high 11 batters in his last start at home versus the Marlins last Saturday. The Braves are 10-1 in Foltynewicz's last 11 starts, though that lone loss came in his last road start on July 21 at Philadelphia (allowed five runs in just 4.0 innings pitched).
- Adam Wainwright is 6-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last seven home starts, one of three NL pitchers undefeated at home with a sub-2.50 ERA since May 10 (minimum six home starts); the others are the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (5-0, 2.49 ERA) and the Braves' Mike Foltynewicz (5-0, 2.43 ERA), against whom Wainwright is pitching on Friday.
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ST. LOUIS -- For most of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals have been correctly panned for inconsistent play.
But when they left Busch Stadium on Saturday night after a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves, they owned a season-high eight-game winning streak.
And when they leave the ballpark after Sunday's series finale with Atlanta, it could be as the first-place team in the very winnable National League Central.
St. Louis (61-56) crawled into a virtual first-place tie with the Chicago Cubs, thanks to their 6-2 loss at Arizona. While Chicago still officially leads by .001 percentage point, the Cardinals clearly have momentum on their side.
Led by an offense that has scored 68 runs in its win streak, St. Louis has looked a lot more lively and viable than anyone else in the division.
"I think all the hard work is paying off," said pitcher Carlos Martinez, who won his ninth game of the year Saturday night. "I have all the confidence in the world in our team. I think the change everyone has seen is the team is more unified.
"Everyone's healthy, and everyone's supporting each other. I think that's the way we're going to keep it through the end of the season, and hopefully into the postseason."
How sizzling has the Cardinals' offense been? Saturday night's game was their first in a week where they didn't score at least eight runs. They have had at least one inning with three runs or more in the last seven games.
Six different players drove in runs Saturday night. There was timely situational hitting, a couple of solo homers and a spate of long, grinding at-bats that have come to characterize this team's best stretch of play in two years.
Good starting pitching has been a feature of the streak as well. Michael Wacha (9-4, 3.70 ERA) will try to keep that trend going in the homestand finale.
Wacha's 10-3 win at Kansas City on Tuesday night was his sixth in his last seven decisions dating to June 26. He gave up six hits and three runs in six innings, walking two and fanning five in a 96-pitch outing.
He has pitched four times in his career against the Braves, going 0-1 with a 3.07 ERA. Wacha left a May 7 game in Atlanta with a 4-2 lead after six innings but settled for a no-decision when the bullpen coughed up the advantage in a 6-4, 14-inning St. Louis win.
His opposite number three-plus months ago, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-7, 4.03), will take the mound for the Braves. Dickey hasn't worked since Aug. 4, when he bagged a 5-3 win over Miami, allowing three hits and three runs in six innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
Dickey gave up four runs in six innings in his start against the Cardinals in May, including a homer to Tommy Pham.
He has faced the Cardinals eight times in his career, with six starts, posting a 3-1 record and 4.38 ERA.
Atlanta (51-63) is looking to snap a five-game losing streak that has seen it drop two one-run games, including Saturday night's.
"These guys give you a hard 27 outs," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of his team. "They never quit coming at you."
Updated August 13, 2017