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Cardinals, Mariners Begin Interleague Play

(Sports Network) - Adam Wainwright goes after win No. 9 when the St. Louis Cardinals return home this evening to face the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game interleague set at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis managed just one win on its recently completed six-game trip and ended the trek with a heartbreaking 7-5 setback in Arizona on Sunday. After the Cardinals crossed the plate three times in the top of the ninth to even the contest, Kyle McClellan (0-2) gave it right back in the home half of the frame, surrendering a game-winning two-run homer to Chris Young.

Albert Pujols had three RBI for the Cardinals, who have dropped six of seven. Starting pitcher Chris Carpentergave up three runs on six hits over six innings, with the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner recording eight strikeouts but walking a season-high five batters.

"[The Diamondbacks] put good at-bats on me the whole game, fouling some tough pitches off," Carpenter said. "But I was able to continue to make pitches and keep my team in the game."

Nobody will welcome a return home more than Wainwright, who is 5-0 with a splendid 1.62 earned run average in five starts at Busch Stadium. He suffered the loss in his last trip to the hill Wednesday in Los Angeles, as theDodgers reached him for four runs and eight hits in six innings to drop him to 8-4 on the year to go along with a 2.30 ERA.

Wainwright has never faced the Mariners.

Seattle, meanwhile, salvaged the finale of their three-game set with the San Diego Padres and snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday, as Felix Hernandez worked within one out of a complete game in lifting the Mariners to a 4-2 decision.

Jose Lopez and Ichiro Suzuki each had RBI doubles for Seattle in the final two innings, while Milton Bradleyhit a two-run homer to help back Hernandez (4-5), who struck out nine, walked one and allowed just four hits -- one a two-run inside-the-park homer off the bat of Tony Gwynn Jr.

"Four hits tells what kind of stuff he has," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Hernandez. "To be able to get deeper in the ball game, that's what's critical is when you have to get ahead of hitters. It was a tremendous game. He went out to win that game and he did in all facets of it."

David Aardsma secured the final out with a runner aboard to get his 13th save.

Tonight the M's will turn to left-hander Luke French, who replaces the ineffective Ian Snell in Seattle's rotation. French has made two relief appearances for the Mariners this year and pitched to a 6.35 ERA without recording a decision.

The 24-year-old was brilliant for Triple-A Tacoma this year, going 6-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 starts. However, he had a 6.38 ERA in seven starts for the Mariners last season.

St. Louis swept a three-game set from the Mariners the last time these teams squared off back in 2004.