The Cincinnati Reds didn't face Adam Wainwright in their visit to Busch Stadium earlier this month. They won't be so fortunate this time around.
Wainwright will try to help the St. Louis Cardinals avoid a season-high third consecutive loss on Monday night when these NL Central foes renew their rivalry.
Trying to build off a season-opening 4-2 homestand, the Reds (14-12) dropped two of three at Busch from April 8-10. St. Louis took the final two games of that series by a combined 15-1 score, but its home opener was spoiled with the bullpen giving up nine ninth-inning runs in a 13-4 defeat.
With closer Jason Motte possibly facing reconstructive elbow surgery, St. Louis' bullpen continues to falter. That group has a major league-worst 5.94 ERA after surrendering 11 runs in a pair of losses over the weekend to Pittsburgh, which moved one-half game in front of the Cardinals (14-10) for the Central lead.
"Yeah, it's hard to be positive, but at the same time you have to do everything you can to fight every single day and I'm doing that,' Mitchell Boggs said after getting charged with three runs in the ninth inning of Sunday's 9-0 loss.
Cardinals starters lead the majors with a 2.18 ERA and Wainwright (4-1, 1.93 ERA) is a big reason why. The right-hander has a chance to match a career high with five consecutive winning starts, last accomplished Aug. 26 in an 8-2 victory in Cincinnati.
St. Louis' ace was two outs shy of his second complete game of the season on Tuesday, a 2-0 road win over Washington.
"I'm disappointed I didn't finish it, but at the same time, I knew I threw a quality game and we won the game," Wainwright told the Cardinals' official website. "So I can't really hang my head."
He felt the same way about walking his first batter of the season.
The Reds have an NL-best 106 walks after drawing four in Sunday's 5-2 win in Washington. Cincinnati had lost three straight and eight in a row on the road since the Cardinals' home opener.
Monday's scheduled starter Mat Latos (1-0, 2.16) left that game after giving up four runs in six innings. The right-hander owns a 10.23 ERA in five starts in St. Louis, but he's yielded just one run in each of his last two starts there.
Latos didn't allow any in Wednesday's 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, extending his scoreless innings streak to 11 despite not getting much out of his secondary pitches.
"It was just a matter of hitting my spots and being able to make key pitches when I needed to," Latos told the Reds' official website.
That could be key against center fielder Jon Jay, whose .450 batting average (9 for 20) off Latos is the highest among those that have faced him more than 15 times.
Yadier Molina (8 for 20) and Carlos Beltran (three homers) have also enjoyed success off Latos.
Brandon Phillips has faced Wainwright more than any other current Red, going 9 for 34 with a homer.
Jay Bruce, who has six hits - including a home run - in 18 at_bats off Wainwright, could be batting out of the sixth spot again after getting two hits on Saturday when manager Dusty Baker dropped him from the five-hole for the first time this season.
Joey Votto, 1 for 17 off Wainwright, went 4 for 10 at Busch from April 8-10 as the Reds failed to win their fourth series in St. Louis since 2003.
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