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Cardinals Get To Nolasco, Score Seven Early Runs

(Sports Network) - St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright owns a perfect mark at Busch Stadium this season. Now it's time for him to step up his road game when he takes the mound tonight in the opener of a three-game series against the Florida Marlins.

Wainwright is 11-0 through 12 starts in the Gateway City, but has just a 4-6 mark in 11 outings as the guest. He won his most recent trip to the hill last Sunday versus Pittsburgh, as he held the Pirates to one run in seven innings of a 9-1 drubbing. Wainwright improved to 15-6 in 23 overall starts and lowered his earned run average to 2.19. He's now trying to become the second 16-game winner in the major leagues, joining Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez (17 wins).

The right-hander beat Florida back on May 20 at Busch Stadium, hurling seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 St. Louis victory. Wainwright is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in seven career meetings (five starts) with the Marlins.

St. Louis could use some additional help on the mound, despite salvaging the finale of a three-game series versus Houston with Wednesday's 8-4 triumph behind co-ace Chris Carpenter. The righty lasted 7 1/3 innings and yielded a pair of runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Albert Pujols went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and Felipe Lopez scored twice and drove in a run for the Cardinals. Allen Craig and Yadier Molina both had two hits and an RBI in the win.

"There are not to many ballclubs that can respond the way we did," Pujols said after the Cards remained a half-game behind Cincinnati for NL Central bragging rights. "Getting beat [Tuesday] night, 18-4. We scored four runs in the first inning and we scored three in the second inning. That is huge."

Florida ended July with three straight wins, but has dropped all four games in August. It was just swept in three games by the visiting Philadelphia Phillies and is coming off last night's 5-4 setback in 10 innings.

There was a controversial call in the ninth inning, when the Marlins' Gaby Sanchez ripped a hard ground ball down the third base line that was ruled foul by third base umpire Bob Davidson despite replays showing it bounced over the bag. Marlins All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was on second base with one out and would have easily scored had the hit been called fair.

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez shared his sentiments on what could have been the game-winning hit.

"I've been in this game for 30 years, and I have the highest respect for the umpires," Rodriguez said on the team's site. "That was the worst call I've ever seen in my 30 years in baseball. That ball was a fair ball by six inches. He was never even looking at the play."

Sanchez finished with two RBI while Logan Morrison and Donnie Murphy each knocked in a run for the Marlins, who are nine games off the pace in the NL East.

Chris Volstad started for Florida and did not record a decision after he yielded two runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. Will Ohman was saddled with the loss for surrendering Carlos Ruiz's home run to lead off the top of the 10th inning.

The Marlins, who are mired in their longest skid of the season, will look to Ricky Nolasco tonight against St. Louis. Nolasco has been on fire as of late, having won three straight and seven of his last eight starts. In Saturday's 6-3 win at San Diego, Nolasco held the division-leading Padres to three runs in 8 1/3 innings and posted seven strikeouts for the second straight outing. He has fanned at least six batters in eight straight starts.

Nolasco, a right-hander, is 12-7 in 22 starts to go along with a 4.28 earned run average this season. He is still in search of his first career win against the Cardinals, having gone 0-2 in five career games (four starts) in this series.

The Marlins and Cardinals split a two-game series back in May, but St. Louis has won four of the past seven meetings between the two clubs.