Adam Wainwright would like to finish as strong as he started.
The ace will take the mound Wednesday against one of his favorite foes as the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Colorado Rockies.
He can help the Cardinals (88-63), who moved one game ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central Tuesday with an 11-4 win over Colorado, reduce their magic number for a postseason berth from five.
“You like gaining a game on them,” said Matt Holliday, who went 4 for 4 with a home run. “But there are still a lot of games left. We have to keep winning games, make it hard on them.”
Wainwright (16-9, 2.96 ERA) began the season in dominant fashion, winning 10 of his first 14 starts with a 2.18 ERA. He has since gone 6-6 with a 3.64 ERA but appears to have found his early season form.
The right-hander stifled Pittsburgh on two hits in seven scoreless innings Sept. 7 before limiting Seattle to a run in eight innings of a 2-1, 10-inning win Friday. Wainwright is 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA in six career starts against the Rockies and pitched a two-hitter in a 3-0 win over Colorado on May 11.
While Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.20) also started the year strongly with a 7-3 record nd 2.48 ERA through 14 starts, he then was sidelined with elbow inflammation and has struggled since returning from that injury this month.
Chatwood has given up 11 free passes in 12 2/3 frames in three outings since being activated from the disabled list and has a 7.20 ERA in a four-start winless stretch. On Friday, Chatwood worked around a career-high six walks and seven hits to allow two runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-5 Colorado win at Arizona.
Chatwood made two relief appearances against the Cardinals in 2012, surrendering four runs in four innings, including a two-run shot by Allen Craig while taking the loss in a 9-3 defeat.
The Rockies (69-83) have lost eight of 11 and scored four runs or fewer in nine consecutive defeats. Michael Cuddyer regained the NL batting lead at .331 by going 2 for 3 on Tuesday, and retiring first baseman Todd Helton has tried to give some stability to an injury-ravaged lineup.
Carlos Gonzalez is likely out for the season with a sprained middle finger, and Nolan Arenado probably won’t be available for this game after aggravating a right thumb injury Monday.
“I’m getting sick and tired of seeing doctors, hearing the same thing,” Gonzalez told the team’s official website. “I’m thinking about next year, getting ready for baseball.”
Wilin Rosario started but had to leave early for the second consecutive game due to soreness in his right calf, and Dexter Fowler hasn’t started since Sept. 6 with a left knee injury.
The Cardinals’ offense has been uneven of late, averaging 6.7 runs in 20 wins since Aug. 14, but just 1.3 runs in 13 losses.
On Tuesday, they had a 10-0 lead after five innings and finished with at least 18 hits for the second time in three games.
“When we get it going like that, it’s hard to stop us,” Holliday said.
Yadier Molina is 7 for his last 15 and Matt Carpenter is 10 for his last 20.