Phillies-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

It's been nearly 75 years since the Philadelphia Phillies swept a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals and even longer since they pulled off that feat in Missouri. Having Roy Halladay on the mound would only seem to help the Phillies in that attempt.

The right-hander, though, has been far from his best lately, and he might have to outduel Adam Wainwright to earn a win in Sunday afternoon's finale.

After dropping four in a row, Philadelphia has gotten back on track during its stay at Busch Stadium with three different kinds of wins. The Phillies (25-23) outslugged the Cardinals (25-22) in Thursday's opener, won in extra innings Friday and shut them down for a 4-0 win Saturday.

Kyle Kendrick threw a seven-hitter and Missouri native John Mayberry provided some support with a two-run double in the sixth inning. Shane Victorino also added an RBI double and is hitting .387 with seven RBIs over his last eight games.

Philadelphia will now seek its first four-game sweep against the defending World Series champions since Aug. 26-28, 1937, and its first in St. Louis since Aug. 3-6, 1913.

Halladay (4-4, 3.58 ERA), though, is 1-4 with a 4.75 ERA over his last seven games. The right-hander gave up five runs and nine hits over six innings during a 5-2 loss to Washington on Tuesday.

"A lot of guys, including myself, are trying to carry the weight of the team. You can't do that," Halladay said. "A lot of us need to go out there and have fun playing the game. You start pressing and it makes things worse."

Halladay is 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA over four regular season and two playoff matchups with the Cardinals, and was on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat in the deciding game of last year's division series. Chris Carpenter outdueled him in that contest but in this one, he'll pitch opposite Wainwright (3-5, 4.78), who is coming off his best outing of the season.

The right-hander struck out a season-high nine batters during a four-hit shutout Tuesday against San Diego, his first since Aug. 6, 2010, and third of his career. Wainwright, who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, was 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in his previous two outings.

"It was a huge sense of relief," Wainwright said. "A huge sense of feeling blessed. I've worked very hard to get back to where I am."

Wainwright will face the Phillies for the first time since July 22, 2010, and is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six lifetime starts. He posted a 0.64 ERA over his two most recent ones but did not receive a decision in either game.

In this one, he'll try to help the Cardinals, losers in 11 of 16, avoid their third four-game skid in the last two-plus weeks.

"We know it's a long ride," catcher Tony Cruz said. "It's a rollercoaster. It's up and down and we'll keep battling. That's all we can do."

Halladay has made one start in St. Louis, allowing one run and four hits over six innings June 21. The right-hander, though, did not get a decision in that 10-2 victory.

Carlos Beltran has faced Halladay more than any other Cardinals player, going 14 for 42 (.333) with two homers and 10 strikeouts. Hunter Pence is 10 for 32 (.313) with eight strikeouts against Wainwright.

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