Adam Wainwright(notes) looks to become the first NL pitcher to reach 14 victories and help St. Louis win its sixth straight against visiting San Diego, which sends impressive rookie Mat Latos(notes) to the mound.
The Cardinals (64-52) have won 13 of 19 to take a 4 1/2-game lead over Chicago in the NL Central. They won two of three against Cincinnati this week to improve to 7-3 in their last 10 at home.
St. Louis starters are 10-4 with a 3.30 ERA during this 19-game stretch, giving up eight home runs over 120 innings. Chris Carpenter(notes) went seven innings in a 5-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday, giving up two runs while striking out 10.
“We’re a good team with a lot of good players,” Carpenter told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “We pitch well, defend well and we hit well.”
Wainwright (13-7, 2.73 ERA) will try to follow Carpenter’s solid start with his fourth win in five outings. The right-hander has a 1.35 ERA in his last eight starts after pitching 6 2-3 innings against Pittsburgh on Saturday, allowing one run while striking out six in a 5-3 victory.
He’ll be opposed by Latos (4-1, 2.43), who is trying to win his fifth straight start for San Diego (49-67). The right-hander, who has made five starts since being called up from Double-A San Antonio on July 18, gave up one run and struck out seven over six innings of a 3-1 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday.
The Padres’ official Web site said Latos was dealing with a sore wrist Tuesday, but he’s expected to be OK for this start.
“Right now, all systems go for Friday night,” manager Bud Black said.
San Diego is in last place in the NL West but has won 11 of 16, taking two of three at Milwaukee this week.
The Padres, though, lost 12-9 to the Brewers on Thursday. Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) went 5 for 5 while Adrian Gonzalez(notes) had three hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth, but they gave up their most runs since allowing 13 to Washington on July 25.
San Diego scored three runs in the eighth, but couldn’t finish the rally.
“A few weeks ago when we would get down I think you’d see guys would get their heads down and it would snowball,” Padres center fielder Tony Gwynn(notes) said. “Now, guys are up there grinding, looking for ways to get things done. That’s growth.”
Padres starters entered Thursday with a 3.12 ERA in the previous six games.
St. Louis has won eight of the last nine meetings between these clubs.