Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright had a great June, and will look to continue his dominance on Thursday against the Angels in his first start of July.
Wainwright was named the National League Pitcher of the Month after going 4-2 with a 1.77 ERA in six starts, including two complete games. The right-hander will try to lead the Cardinals to a series win over the Angels in their final Interleague game in an American League ballpark.
While the National League is loaded with great pitchers, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said he hasn't seen any one perform better than Wainwright this season.
"In the league we have some good pitching, but Adam has been outstanding for us," Molina said. "That's all we need."
The Angels had their seven-game win streak snapped on Wednesday, as the Cardinals pounded out 13 hits en route to a 12-2 victory.
Joe Blanton will take the mound for the Angels, looking to continue his resurgence. The right-hander won his last outing, and lowered his ERA from 5.94 to 5.07 with a strong June.
Blanton's turn in the rotation was skipped after he allowed six earned runs against the Red Sox on June 9, but he's rebounded with three straight quality starts.
"I think Joe's ability to locate the fastball is getting more refined as he's gotten into the season after that hiatus we gave him," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "That sets up the opportunity to command counts, so then he's unafraid to challenge guys when he has his command. You've seen him gradually improve his command and results since the first month of the season."
Blanton has enjoyed some success against the Cardinals in his career, going 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in eight outings.
Cardinals: Holliday could return to lineup
Matt Holliday was kept him out of the lineup for two straight days because of a pinched nerve in his neck, but the Cardinals outfielder hopes to start on Thursday.
"They're going to continue to work on him and treat him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Wednesday. "Hopefully tomorrow he's a step closer, if not able to be in there. Right now, as much as he improved from yesterday, it seems like things are moving in the right direction."
Holliday did not take batting practice on the field at Angel Stadium before Wednesday's game, but was considering taking some swings in the indoor cages.
Angels: La Russa knows Pujols' potential
Albert Pujols hasn't put up the same numbers with the Angels as he did during 11 seasons with the Cardinals, but his former manager in St. Louis believes the first baseman still can produce at an All-Star level.
Tony La Russa, who won two Word Series with Pujols when they were with the Cardinals, was at Angel Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday to watch his former club take on his former star. La Russa, working for Major League Baseball as a special advisor, thinks Pujols can still be a force at the plate.
"I just think that if they can get him healthy, then they'll see the .300 hitter with 100 RBIs and 30 home runs," La Russa said. "Not only that, because he works -- he has no bad habits, doesn't drink alcohol, watches what he eats, and every year, he's smarter than he was before. So experience is a huge weapon for him. But he's playing hurt, and still he's representing."
Pujols has battled foot and knee issues since coming to the Angels as a free agent following the 2011 season.
During his time in St. Louis, Pujols hit .328 and averaged 40 home runs, 41 doubles and 121 RBIs over 11 seasons.
In 82 games this season, Pujols is hitting .244 with 13 homers, 18 doubles and 49 RBIs. He hit .285 with 30 homers, 50 doubles and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Angels in 2012.
• Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran is 6-for-19 (.316) in his career against Blanton with one double and two RBIs.
• Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton extended his hit streak to eight games with a single in the sixth inning on Wednesday.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.