After tossing seven scoreless innings Sunday afternoon, Adam Wainwright dared his fellow St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers to match his feat. On Monday, Miles Mikolas answered the call and raised the bar even higher.
Your move, Jack Flaherty.
The Cardinals will look to Flaherty to continue their resurgence Tuesday night, when the right-hander takes the mound against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game series.
Flaherty (4-6, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pirates rookie right-hander Dario Agrazal (2-0, 2.81 ERA).
The Cardinals ran their winning streak to three games Monday night, when Tyler O'Neill produced his first two-homer game as a big leaguer and Mikolas went the distance in an eight-hit shutout, 7-0.
The complete-game shutout was the first this season by a Cardinals pitcher and the first for St. Louis since Mikolas blanked the Kansas City Royals on May 21, 2018.
Mikolas' gem also extended the scoreless streak for Cardinals starting pitchers to 17 1/3 innings dating back to the fifth inning of Saturday's 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mikolas, Wainwright and Dakota Hudson, who started and earned the victory Saturday, have combined to allow just two earned runs over 22 innings in the last three games.
"'Waino' came in the other day and said, 'Anybody going to beat seven shutty (innings)?'" Mikolas said Monday night. "So we're joking with each other, but we're pushing each other, trying to make each other better. So when you see one guy have success, (it) really pumps you up, and I want to go out and do that. That looked like a lot of fun. So that's what you've got to go out and do."
The Pirates, on the other hand, aren't having a lot of fun after opening the second half with a four-game losing streak that has them in danger of falling out of contention in a wildly competitive National League Central.
The Pirates exited the All-Star Break just 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs but were swept by the Cubs in the first series of the second half at Wrigley Field. Chicago's 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday dropped Pittsburgh into a virtual tie for last in the division with the Reds.
The Pirates have been outscored 29-10 during the losing streak.
"We need to find a way to create some more momentum and get some consistency back across the board with the pitching, the fielding and the hitting," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said following Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Cubs.
Flaherty took a hard-luck loss in his most recent start July 7, when he allowed one run on two hits over seven innings as the Cardinals fell to the San Francisco Giants 1-0.
Agrazal, who will be making his fourth big league start when he opposes the Cardinals for the first time on Tuesday, earned the win on July 6, when he allowed two runs over six innings as the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 12-2.
Flaherty is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates.
The Cardinals may be without third baseman Matt Carpenter, who left Monday's game in the seventh inning after fouling a ball off his right foot. X-rays were negative.
--Field Level Media