The St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen just got a nice break.
Jake Westbrook will try to give that group even more rest.
The veteran sinkerballer goes for a third consecutive winning start in Sunday's series finale against the Oakland Athletics.
After rookie Shelby Miller was removed in the second inning of Friday's 6-1 series-opening loss, ace Adam Wainwright threw a five-hitter in Saturday's 7-1 victory.
It was an especially important performance after the Cardinals (49-31) had lost two straight and five of six to fall out of the top spot in the NL Central, and the team's previous six starters had a combined 6.75 ERA in 29 1-3 total innings.
St. Louis will try to build on its second victory over an AL team in eight tries with Westbrook (4-2, 2.21 ERA) looking to improve to 5-0 in interleague road starts since joining the Cardinals in 2010. The right-hander threw six innings of four-run ball in Tuesday's 13-5 victory at Houston.
It was Westbrook's third appearance since missing more than a month with inflammation in his elbow.
"I feel pretty good," he told the Cardinals' official website. "You're always going to have to grind through some things, being 35 with the elbow and body I have."
He hasn't won three straight starts since a five-start stretch from July 21-Aug. 11.
Westbrook, who last faced the A's in 2010 while with Cleveland, is 2-4 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts in Oakland.
The A's (47-35), winners of 15 of 18 at home, could really use a lengthy outing from Tommy Milone (6-7, 4.06) after Jarrod Parker left in the fourth inning Saturday with tightness in his right hamstring.
Milone, though, is winless in four starts and has logged 10 total innings in his last two after yielding three runs in a season-low 4 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-3 win over Cincinnati.
"I don't know, something was a little bit off," the left-hander told the Athletics' official website after his 103-pitch outing. "I wasn't able to throw it where I wanted to. It was just an uncomfortable feeling."
Milone can't afford another wild outing - he walked a carer high-tying four Tuesday - with the Cardinals batting a major league-best .339 with runners in scoring position. They went 4 for 7 in those situations Saturday.
Slugger Matt Adams provided the power with his first career two-homer game, while second baseman Matt Carpenter extended his hitting streak to nine. He's batting .359 during that stretch.
Oakland couldn't generate much offense Saturday - with no runners reaching second base until the eighth inning - but Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick each carry eight-game hitting streaks into the series finale. Both will get their first look at Westbrook.
With eight hits in 15 at_bats, A's center fielder Coco Crisp has the third-highest batting average (.533) off Westbrook among those that have faced him at least 15 times.
No Cardinals player has batted against Milone.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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