Preview: Cards look to secure first series victory over Braves in two years

The St. Louis Cardinals are playing much better than the last time they were in the midst of a series with the Atlanta Braves.

Looking to continue their surge, the Cardinals try for a fourth consecutive win to secure their first series victory over the Braves in two years Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis (75-53) scored three times while being swept at Atlanta from July 26-28. That was the beginning of a season-high seven-game slide that dropped the Cardinals out of first place in the NL Central.

Though St. Louis remains a game behind first-place Pittsburgh in the division, it leads the wild-card race and won nine of 12.

After opening this four-game set between likely postseason clubs with a 6-2 victory, Adam Wainwright tossed a six-hitter during the Cardinals’ 3-1 win over the East-leading Braves (77-51) on Friday.

“It’s always good to do that and I feel like our team needed it,” Wainwright said.

These two victories followed a stretch where Atlanta won five straight and eight of nine regular season games against the Cardinals. St. Louis last won a series from Atlanta with a three-game home sweep Sept. 9-11.

Yadier Molina had three hits and Matt Holliday homered for the Cardinals on Friday.

Among the major league leaders with a .337 average, Molina is 13 for 26 in six games since he went 0 for 5 on Aug. 15 – his first game since a two-week stint on the disabled list with a sprained right knee.

Molina is 5 for 8 his last two games against Atlanta but 0 for 3 against scheduled starter Julio Teheran (10-6, 2.96 ERA), who is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last six starts.

After giving up four runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 12, Teheran allowed five hits, walked three and stranded nine runners in six scoreless innings of a 2-1 victory over Washington on Sunday.

“Know every time I get into trouble like that, I can just get out of it,” he told the Braves’ official website. “That’s the confidence that I have.”

Teheran, 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his last three road starts, faced St. Louis at home July 27 when he gave up two hits and fanned six in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 2-0 win.

In the mix with Molina for the NL batting title, Chris Johnson is batting .332 after going 2 for 4 on Friday as the Braves lost for the third time in four road contests. That followed a six-game winning streak away from home.

Johnson is 9 for 17 against the Cardinals this season, and 2 for 3 versus scheduled St. Louis starter Shelby Miller (11-8, 2.98).

Since being hit on the elbow with a line drive Aug. 7, Miller is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts. He have gave up two runs, five hits and walked four while striking out eight over 5 1-3 innings of an 8-5 win at Milwaukee on Monday.

The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-2 loss at Atlanta on July 28.