With Adam Wainwright on the mound, it would appear the St. Louis Cardinals have a strong chance to complete a four-game sweep of the reeling New York Mets.
The right-hander looks to build on another gem and help the Cardinals hand the visiting Mets a season-high seventh straight loss Thursday.
After Wainwright (5-2, 2.30 ERA) allowed a season-worst five runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings at Milwaukee on May 4, he took a no-hitter into the eighth before finishing with a two-hitter in Saturday's 3-0 win over Colorado. It was his third scoreless outing of 2013, and the Cardinals' sixth win in his last seven outings.
"I wanted to get back to the basics after the last start," he said. "I wanted to attack the strike zone right away. Keep it simple, that was my focus."
At least one teammate suggested that the way Wainwright is pitching, he's capable of no-hitting just about any opponent.
"I feel like he's going to do that every time," first baseman Allen Craig said. "He has that mentality when he's out there."
Wainwright has shined at home, yielding two runs and 11 hits in 25 innings while striking out 25 and walking three. However, he's lost his last three starts versus New York with a 9.92 ERA.
But none of those outings came in 2013, and this Mets team is riding a six-game losing streak during which it has hit .195 while getting outscored 41-16.
New York (14-23) is at risk of suffering a four-game sweep at St. Louis for the first time following a 4-2 loss Wednesday. The Cardinals (26-13) managed six hits and scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch in the seventh to win for the 12th time in 14 games.
Jon Jay has keyed the surge, hitting .439 with 12 RBIs over his last 12 games after contributing an RBI double Wednesday.
Ex-Cardinal Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer in his third game since New York picked him up after being released by Houston last week.
"It's unfortunate we didn't win but for me it's a positive, so I'm happy about it," said Ankiel, who is 2 for 8 with New York after batting .194 in 25 games with the Astros. "For me it was just fun to do because it was against that team."
David Wright struck out three times Wednesday and has no homers with one RBI in the last nine games for the Mets, who are looking to avoid losing seven in a row for the first time since April 10-16, 2011.
Scheduled New York starter Jonathon Niese (2-4, 5.93) is 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in five starts since he won at Minnesota on April 12. The left-hander has been very bad in the last two, allowing 15 runs and walking nine in 8 1-3 innings.
"I'm not really deceiving anybody right now," he told the Mets' official website. "With my arm angle being down, I think they can pick the ball up a lot sooner, and that's why I think they're not chasing some of the pitches that they normally have chased.
"Hopefully I can get it back."
There might be reason to believe that could come Wednesday for Niese, who is 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals. However, this will be his first appearance at Busch Stadium.
The Associated Press News Service
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