As the Cardinals open a series with the Phillies on Thursday, they'll try to bounce back from a shutout loss to the Pirates on the strength of their pitching.
Boasting a 3.32 ERA (third best in the National League), and with a 39 1/3-scoreless-innings-streak still fresh in mind, the Cardinals know they have the arms to lock down the opposition.
It also helps that St. Louis will start a pitcher who hasn't allowed a walk in 22 innings.
Adam Wainwright will make his fourth start this season on Thursday, after shutting out the Brewers last Saturday. Wainwright owns a 2.05 ERA to start the season, and his walkless streak marks the the longest stretch by any Cardinals pitcher to start a season since Pea Ridge Day's streak of 29 2/3 innings in 1925.
"It's something I say to myself before every game is no free passes. The lessons I learned in 2011 [when out after Tommy John surgery] are still sticking with me," Wainwright said. "When I was watching games, I tried to really keep track of the walks and why guys were scoring. And it seemed like if you didn't walk anybody, they never scored. Even when I get behind in the count, 2-1, 3-1, you can throw good quality pitches in the zone and let guys get themselves out. Or get a hit. But at least make them earn it."
The Phillies will counter with Cole Hamels, who has had a rough season so far. Hamels will try to refashion his 7.56 ERA on the season in Thursday's start.
The lefty did show some improvement in his last outing on Saturday against Miami, allowing just one run in six innings.
Phillies: Ruiz catches in extended spring game
Carlos Ruiz, serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned substance, caught seven innings Tuesday in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla.
Ruiz sat out Wednesday's game, and is eligible to join the team on April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field.
• Closer Jonathan Papelbon is a perfect 54-for-54 in save opportunities over his career in April. No other reliever has recorded a perfect career save percentage in a calendar month with at least 50 chances.
Cardinals: Matheny trying to get Robinson a look
Manager Mike Matheny has wanted to get outfielder Shane Robinson, who hit .438 in Grapefruit League play, into the starting lineup, but pitching matchups haven't worked out so far.
"It's hard taking the everyday guys out when they're playing as well as they are, but Shane, especially with the spring he had, deserves to get in there as much as we can get him," Matheny said. "We just keep challenging Shane and the other guys, too, to really figure out what you have to do to be sharp when that opportunity comes."
That opportunity could come for Robinson this week, as St. Louis matches up with two Phillies left-handers in Hamels on Thursday, and Cliff Lee on Saturday.
• Allen Craig will be back in the lineup after getting the night off on Wednesday. The outfielder is off to a slow start this season, batting .224 with no home runs and nine RBIs.
• The Cardinals' starting staff has fanned 82 batters, and have had at least one strikeout in 23 of their last 29 innings.
• The Phillies are in a stretch of 17 consecutive games without a day off, matching their 2nd-longest stretch of games without a day off this season.