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STL@KC: Wacha allows three runs over six innings

For the Cardinals and Rays, the last three games have brought trends from both ends of the spectrum. The Cardinals aren't allowing runs, and the Rays can't score them.

Tampa Bay will enter the series finale with the Cardinals on Wednesday in St. Petersburg on a stretch of being shut out in three consecutive games. Meanwhile, the St. Louis pitching staff has accrued three straight shutouts.

The task won't get any easier for the Rays in the finale of a short two-game series as they face second-year starter Michael Wacha. The 22-year-old right-hander has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his starts this season.

"It doesn't get any easier. Can't cry about that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We face good pitching all the time in our division, in the American League. We've seen a lot of good pitching. I've always talked about, you have to beat the best to be the best -- we used to enjoy it in the Roy Halladay days, when we had to beat him. Regardless of how good they are, and they are good, you can't look at it that way."

Wacha labored through a five-hit, three-run sixth inning his last time on the mound and took the loss. He has a 4-4 record this season despite having quality starts in 11 of 13 outings.

"I just didn't have the command I needed to get out of that sixth inning," Wacha said of his last start.

While Tampa Bay has lost 14 of its last 15 games, the one lone victory came behind a strong start from veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who will return to the hill to face the Cardinals. In his last outing, Bedard tossed six scoreless innings, allowing four hits.

In that start, the Rays' offense, which has averaged only 2.33 runs per game in the last 15 games, scored four runs to back the outing.

"It helps when you score early runs and get the lead," Bedard said.

"It was just the same way he's been pitching," Maddon said. "The result[s] just weren't as good before."

If there is one thing Wacha won't have to worry about in his 14th start of the season, it's rain. He has endured six weather delays in his second season in the Majors, totaling six hours and 30 minutes. With a roof in Tampa Bay, Wacha will be able to focus on continuing his streak of outings allowing three runs or less.

The last Major League pitcher to open the season with three runs or fewer allowed in 13 or more consecutive starts was James McDonald in 2012 (14 starts). This will be Wacha's first career outing against Tampa Bay. He is 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four Interleague starts.

Cardinals: Taveras or Grichuk could be optioned Friday
The final game of the Cardinals' seven-game road trip Wednesday could mark the last game in the Majors for some time for one of the team's two young outfielders, Oscar Taveras or Randal Grichuk.

The Cardinals are expected to activate Matt Adams, who can come off the disabled list beginning Friday, and are likely to option either Taveras or Grichuk back to Triple-A Memphis to make room on the roster.

"I know it's a fair question, but I don't think there's a fair answer to start drawing all the conclusions of what might start happening here if and when Adams does come back," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's a topic of conversation, I get it. I would just rather stay away from it and let the guys play the game.

Taveras is 7-for-36 since his callup on May 31. Grichuk, in two stints with the club this season, is 6-for-39.

Rays: Jose Molina hosts his brother for two-game series
For the first time since 2011, when Jose Molina was with the Blue Jays, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had a chance to face his older brother in Tuesday's series-opener.

Jose is playing host to Molina and his 5-year-old son in St. Petersburg this week.

"It's always fun, it's always good to see him, and I'm always happy to have him on the same field that I am," Jose said. "And I just want to go out and try to beat him."

"It's always weird, you know, because you want him to do good, too, and you want to win games," Yadier said. "You want him to do good, but at the same time you want him to do not that good."

Jose went 1-for-3 in the first of two games while Yadier went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Worth noting
• Wacha has only faced one player on the Rays' roster. Outfielder David DeJesus has faced the youngster three times, going 0-for-2 with a walk.

• The Rays set a franchise record for futility in Tuesday's shutout loss, as they've now gone 28 straight innings without scoring a run, passing the 106-loss 2002 team's record of 26 consecutive innings. They were shut out for the third consecutive game.

• Wednesday's game will wrap up the Cardinals' road Interleague schedule until August, when the team goes to Baltimore. The Cardinals also have home series scheduled against the Rays (July) and Red Sox (August).

• Tony La Russa will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to Wednesday's game in Tampa Bay. La Russa will be inducted on July 27 to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming the second Tampa native enshrined after Al Lopez. He managed the Cardinals from 1996-2011, winning two World Series titles.

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