(SportsNetwork.com) - Adam Wainwright will take the mound Thursday for the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a four-game road series against the Washington Nationals.
The Cardinals and Nationals are favorites to dominate the National League this season and are meeting for the first time. The Cardinals won all six matchups in this series a year ago and Adam Wainwright picked up two of those wins.
Wainwright gets the call Thursday and is 2-1 with a 2.57 earned run average in three starts. He last took the mound in a 10-4 win against the Chicago Cubs last Saturday and didn't have his best stuff, allowing four runs and seven hits, including a home run, in seven innings of work. He still got the win.
"It was nice to get some runs for Adam and let him do his thing," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
The right-hander bounced back from a loss at Pittsburgh on April 6 and has faced Washington 12 times (10 starts) in his career, going 6-3 with a 3.17 earned run average across 65 1/3 innings.
St. Louis hopes Wainwright can pitch the club back into the win column after having a four-game winning streak cut short with Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in the finale of a three-game series from Miller Park. The Cardinals slowed down the red-hot Brewers by taking the first two games of the series, but couldn't pull off the sweep.
Joe Kelly pitched well in taking the loss, as he allowed one unearned run and three hits in four innings. He left the game in the fifth inning with a leg injury and four relievers took over afterward.
"I definitely tweaked it. I called the trainer over to let him know and I came out of the game," said Kelly, who will not travel with the team but head back to St. Louis for an MRI on Thursday.
Allen Craig supplied the lone run with his first homer of the season for the Cardinals, who started an 11-game road trip on a positive note. The Cardinals will also visit the New York Mets on the trek.
Washington went 2-4 on its recent road trip and is back at Nationals Park for the next 11 games versus the Cardinals, L.A. Angels and San Diego Padres.
The Nationals took two out of three against the Miami Marlins, including Wednesday's 6-3 victory behind Jayson Werth's game-tying three-run homer in the sixth inning and Zach Walters' go-ahead shot in the eighth.
"I put a good swing on it," said Werth. "This park is so big, you really just don't know. Most other parks, it's probably a no-doubter. Here it's scraping the back of the fence."
Ian Desmond drove in two runs and Drew Storen picked up the win in relief of starter Tanner Roark by getting the final two outs in the seventh inning. Roark was reached for three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, while striking out five and walking two.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was scratched before the game with quad tightness and left the previous two games with the same problem. Manager Matt Williams expects Harper to be back in the lineup Thursday.
Taylor Jordan will make his third start of the season for the Nats Thursday and has faced just Atlanta so far, compiling an 0-1 record with a 4.76 ERA. Jordan previously toed the rubber in last Saturday's 6-3 road loss to the Braves and gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Jordan, a right-hander, has never faced the Cardinals.