Colorado’s Shawn Chacon and Los Angeles’ Kevin Brown are the only NL pitchers with more wins than Williams. As Williams attempts to join them, he will be looking to duplicate his performance from Saturday.
The 36-year-old allowed one run and five hits of the 8-1 win over the Kansas City Royals. He struck out eight and walked one.
“I think he’s a man on a mission,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Second baseman Bo Hart will try to help Williams with that mission on Thursday. Called up to replace injured infielders Fernando Vina and Miguel Cairo, the 26-year-old rookie is batting .500 (15-for-30).
“There may have been one hit in there that wasn’t important,” La Russa said. “But the other 14 have really been game-type situations.”
On Wednesday, Hart hit a leadoff homer and went 3-for-5 to spark the Cardinals to a 9-6 victory. It was just St. Louis’ second win in nine games against Cincinnati this season.
Hart has five multihit games in his last six since being called up from the minors.
“It’s unexplainable,” Hart said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and hit good pitches, hit strikes. Hopefully, I’ll continue to have that mindset.”
Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 476th career home run on Wednesday, moving past Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 21st on the all-time list. His three-run shot was his eighth homer of the season and his first in 92 at-bats.
Cincinnati, which won Tuesday’s series opener 7-4, has lost four of five.
STANDINGS: Reds - 4th place, 4 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, NL Central.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Danny Graves (3-6, 5.11 ERA). A closer until this season, Graves returned to his former role on Tuesday. He pitched a scoreless 14th inning to pick up a save in the Reds’ 7-4 win. In his most recent start on Friday, Graves did not get a decision, allowing three runs and eight hits through 5 2-3 innings of the Reds’ 6-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old right-hander is 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 18 career games against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Williams (9-2, 2.55 ERA). Williams is 5-3 with a 5.38 ERA in 10 career games against the Reds.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Reds - Sean Casey, .306 avg.; Adam Dunn, 22 HRs and 47 runs; Austin Kearns, 57 RBIs; Aaron Boone, 11 SBs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .387 avg., 21 HRs, 68 RBIs and 69 runs; Edgar Renteria, 14 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Reds, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - CF Griffey is batting .440 (11-for-25) with five homers in his career against RHP Williams. … 1B Casey, who went 3-for-5 Wednesday, is 12-for-22 (.545) in his last five games. … RHP Paul Wilson was suspended five games for his actions in a brawl against the Chicago Cubs last week. He said he will likely appeal the suspension. Cardinals - SS Edgar Renteria is batting .450 (9-for-20) in his career against RHP Graves. … LF Pujols has at least two hits in four straight games. He’s batting .524 (11-for-21) in those games. … CF J.D. Drew did not start Wednesday because of soreness in his right quad. He walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 16-20 on the road; Cardinals - 24-15 at home.
INJURIES: Reds - IF Ryan Freel (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP John Riedling (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; C Chris Widger (thumb), 15-day DL; IF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; IF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.