Flaherty seeks first major league win as Cardinals wrap up series with Phillies

Aaron Nola has a five-game winning streak. The Philadelphia Phillies, as a team, have won eight of their last 10, and the pitcher will try to keep both runs going in the finale of a four-game series with St. Louis on Sunday at Busch Stadium.

Nola, in fact, has won his last five starts and pitched well each time. He’s 6-1 with a 1.99 ERA and has 51 strikeouts with just 13 walks in 58 2/3 innings this season.

Nola is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three career starts against St. Louis. He has struck out 21 in 19 1/3 innings in those games.

Jack Flaherty will start for the Cardinals. He is 0-1 with a 2.87 ERA in three games (all starts) this season. He has not gone longer than 5 2/3 innings yet but pitched effectively in each start.

This will be Flaherty’s first appearance against the Phillies.

The Phillies are coming off a come-from-behind 7-6 victory on Saturday, a game that featured a 44-minute rain delay midway through. They got some late help from catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was supposed to start but then became a late scratch because of soreness in his right knee.

Alfaro came through when the Phillies needed him, getting a tiebreaking pinch-RBI infield single in the eighth inning that resulted in the victory.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told MLB.com on Friday that he’s pleased with how well the catcher is growing and settling into the position.

“He has become more and more confident as the season has progressed, and I think it all starts with his athleticism, his overall defense, but definitely the athleticism that he brings to the field,” Kapler said. “He’s confident right now.”

The Odubel Herrera streak continued Saturday. He knocked in three runs and reached base for a 45th consecutive game.

The Phillies have been one of the early surprises of the National League season. They’ve hung around near the top of the East despite having a number of younger players carrying the load.

Saturday’s victory gave the Phillies a 26-17 record and briefly pulled them into a tie for first with Atlanta.

St. Louis (24-19) remains in the hunt in the NL Central despite numerous injuries.

The Cardinals have placed four players on the disabled list in recent days, which has really taxed the club.

Still, St. Louis is hanging in there. The Cardinals have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games but hit better in this series. Tyler O’Neill got his first career homer in Saturday’s loss, and the Cardinals rallied a few times in that game.

St. Louis will need a good start from Flaherty on Sunday after five relief pitchers were used Saturday. A strong start would give the bullpen a break.

Right now, though, St. Louis has to figure out a few things, and manager Mike Matheny is confident it will.

“I love the challenge of what the club has in front of them right now,” Matheny told MLB.com on Friday. “We have guys who are completely capable of going out there and (doing) special things. When you look at what we have and what we haven’t done, we have so much room to climb and grow and get better.”