KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Cardinals rookie right-hander Jack Flaherty would like to pitch on Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals like he did in his previous start.
Flaherty threw six scoreless innings on Sunday in a 2-1 Redbirds victory at Pittsburgh. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out seven.
"I think I was focused on strike one and making them attack my pitch," Flaherty said. "I wanted to work ahead in the count. Trying to get guys out early and inducing contact, and just let things happen."
Flaherty (5-6, 3.27 ERA) leads all National League pitchers with 31 strikeouts after the All-Star break. He has struck out at least seven in each of his past four starts.
"It just shows we're getting ahead," Flaherty said of the strikeouts. "Just make them go faster instead of getting into deep counts, and then finally really executing more once the count gets on, trying to execute earlier in the count. Just not trying to toy around too much and trying to make things happen in at-bats."
Flaherty, who was a 2014 first-round pick out of high school in Studio City, Calif., went 1-3 with a 4.71 ERA in six July starts. He was 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in five June starts.
This is his first career appearance against Kansas City. Is that to his advantage, with the Royals' hitters never seeing him?
"It goes both ways," Flaherty said. "The first time you see them, the first time they've seen me, but, I've seen some of them before, in the minor leagues. It's just going out and executing for both sides. Not trying to change anything too much, just sticking with the same approach. Simplify things, not make anything too complicated or change anything."
The Cardinals have played 10 rookies this season.
Adolis Garcia singled in the eighth on Friday for his first major league hit. He replaced Yairo Munoz, who exited in the sixth after a swing with a right wrist strain.
"It has been a nice rejuvenation," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said of the rookie contributions. "First of all, what's been impressive to me is how prepared they are. Then, how they go about things that look to be beyond their years; that's a credit to them, ultimately, (and) a credit to our farm system as well. They show up, they have good habits, they're preparing well, they ask great questions.
"They listen, which is important -- not only to the staff but most importantly to other guys in the clubhouse who have more experience that they can share and relate to. And then on the field, they're obviously talented, but they're aggressive, too. They're confident in how they play the game, and they're more in attack mode than anything else, a lot of positive variables. I didn't know the number was that high."
The Royals will start veteran left-hander Danny Duffy, who will make his 25th start. He is 7-10 with a 4.70 ERA.
After a rocky 1-6 start to the season, Duffy has pitched better recently.
Duffy owned a 6.88 ERA in his first 10 starts, but he is 6-4 with a 3.41 ERA in his past 14 starts. Opponents hit .327 versus Duffy with runners in scoring position in his first dozen starts. He has limited opposing hitters to a .203 average (14-for-69) with runners in scoring position in his last 12 outings.
Duffy is coming off a 6-5 loss on Sunday at Minnesota. He yielded six runs on eight hits, including a grand slam to Jake Cave, while striking out six in six innings.
He is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals, but has not faced them since June 27, 2016, when he went eight innings in a 6-2 victory.
Duffy is 2-0 with a 6.48 ERA in nine home starts this season.
The Cardinals won the opener of this weekend series 7-0 Friday night with Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader homering.
The Royals were shut out for the eighth time, four of them against National League clubs. They stranded 11 runners and went hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring positions.
The Cardinals are 15-9 under Shildt and are 7-2 in August. They are 35-19 at Kauffman Stadium since interleague play began in 1997.