While it won't erase the bitter memory of losing the 2011 World Series, a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals could help the Texas Rangers pad their lead atop the AL West
The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright will try to thwart the Rangers' attempt at a season-high fifth straight victory by becoming the NL's first 11-game winner Sunday night.
In its first trip to Busch Stadium since blowing Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series, Texas (43-32) has handled St. Louis so far, rallying for a 6-4 win Friday and taking control early in a 4-2 victory Saturday. Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski homered in the first three innings, and the Cardinals (47-28) registered only four singles in the final seven frames.
The Rangers' fifth win in six contests coupled with an Oakland loss in Seattle pushed Texas percentage points ahead of the Athletics in the division. The Rangers trailed Oakland by three games after losing for a sixth straight time last Sunday.
The Rangers have cut their deficit in part by scoring 33 runs in their last six games, including three wins against the A's earlier this week. They plated 39 during a 4-11 start to this month.
"We're just taking a lot of energy and a lot of intensity into each game," outfielder David Murphy told the team's website. "Obviously, we're swinging the bat better and pitching well, things are going better. We're in a good place and we need to focus on staying here as long as we can."
Texas has the difficult task of keeping that momentum going against Wainwright (10-4, 2.37 ERA), who had a streak of five consecutive winning starts snapped in his most recent outing.
The right-hander suffered a 4-2 loss to the lowly Chicago Cubs on Tuesday by giving up four runs in seven innings. He had a 1.64 ERA during his season-best win streak.
"If they had a happy zone, I found it," Wainwright said. "I threw it in the worst possible spot every time."
Wainwright missed the chance to pitch in the 2011 World Series after undergoing Tommy John surgery before the season and has never faced Texas.
He'll try to join Detroit's Max Scherzer as the only 11-game winners in the majors. Wainwright will also try to help spoil the struggling Nick Tepesch's first start in his home state.
The rookie right-hander is 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA in his last three starts and matched a career worst by allowing six runs in his 3 2-3 innings against Oakland on Monday. The Kansas City native and former University of Missouri player, though, avoided his fourth straight loss when the Rangers rallied for an 8-7 victory.
Teams are batting .168 against Tepesch (3-6, 4.84) in their first time through the lineup but .260 in their second look and .397 in their third.
"He's got to figure out what he's doing early to get outs and do it late," manager Ron Washington told the team's website. "Right now, he's getting challenged."
Tepesch will try to pull out of his funk while giving Texas its longest win streak since June 26-30.