Wainwright, Cardinals Collide With Diamondbacks

By: Willie Bee | Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A couple of third-place squads on the outside of the current National League playoff hunt continue their series in St. Louis on Wednesday when the Cardinals host the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Game time from Busch Stadium in Archway City is 8:15 p.m. (ET) as the D-Backs send lefty Joe Saunders to the mound against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.  Early odds for the clash listed the Redbirds at -165 and an 8-run total that leaned to the 'over.'

St. Louis began this series third in the NL Central and seven games behind the Cincinnati Reds.  Arizona is slotted similarly in the NL West, but only 4.5-games back of the Dodgers and Giants who started play on Tuesday deadlocked at the top of the division.  The Cardinals were two games out of the second NL wild card spot, presently held by the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the Diamondbacks were six behind.

Both teams took the day off Monday leading into this series, and for Arizona it marked just the second off day since the all-star break.  The club endured a 10-game road trip that spanned both coasts, came home this past weekend when the Diamondbacks dropped two of three to the Washington Nationals, and they are right back on the MLB highway with this series in St. Louis followed by a weekend set in Houston.

Manager Kirk Gibson, who is not known for making excuses, cited fatigue from the arduous schedule and travel as one reason his team may have lost six of the last nine before Tuesday's series opener that was still pending.  St. Louis was a slight favorite (-110) for Tuesday's contest with Joe Kelly on the mound.  The Diamondbacks were sending Ian Kennedy to the hill with a 9-run total.

Saunders is 2-3 with a no-decision so far in the second half, and will be making his sixth road start among his eight most recent assignments. All six of his latest starts have been quality efforts, but they translated to just two wins for the Snakes.

The Cardinals took him to the woodshed at Chase Field back in early-May, swatting three homers and scoring seven runs (6 earned) in his 3-1/3 innings of work.  That marked just his second career outing vs. the Redbirds.

Wainwright has been outstanding since the end of June with a 2.21 ERA over seven starts.  The big Georgian has served up only one homer and owns a sterling 46:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio during the stretch, but the Cards are a pedestrian 4-3 despite his good work.  All four of the wins have come at Busch Stadium after the team went 3-6 with Wainwright on the home bump the first three months of the campaign.

He missed the D-Backs when the clubs tangled in Phoenix in May, and is 4-3 lifetime vs. Arizona with a 2.48 ERA.

St. Louis swept that 3-game set at Chase Field and brings a 5-game win streak over the Diamondbacks into this series.  The teams and the totals split the four games played at Busch a year ago.

A warm and clear day is in the St. Louis forecast for Wednesday when the thermometer is expected to still be in the upper-80s for first pitch.

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