John Lackey has been dominant recently but that's been the case at home all season. That could change against red-hot Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds.
Lackey will try to slow Votto down and help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Reds for the 10th time in 12 meetings at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.
Since allowing a season-high 10 runs over four innings of an 11-3 loss at Colorado on June 8, Lackey (9-5, 2.88 ERA) has gone 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA in eight starts since. He's lasted at least seven innings in seven of those outings.
"That's my whole career," Lackey said. "I get deep in games, that's why I'm still doing it."
That's been common theme at home, where the 36-year-old right-hander is 7-2 with a 1.97 ERA in 11 starts, completing a minimum of seven innings in all but one.
He lasted that long Thursday, yielding two runs in a 4-3 win over AL-leading Kansas City.
Lackey is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA in five career starts against Cincinnati (44-54), allowing four runs and a pair of homers to Votto in six innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-4 road loss April 10.
Votto has been a huge challenge for any pitcher lately, going 23 for 41 (.561) with four homers and nine RBIs in 12 games since the All-Star break.
He's 11 for 25 with four home runs and eight RBIs in eight games against St. Louis this year.
Votto fell a triple shy of the cycle Tuesday, opening the scoring in a 4-0 victory with a three-run homer in the sixth inning. The Reds had lost six straight to the Cardinals.
"Well, it would be more satisfying if we were winning more games and we were in the middle of the hunt," said Votto, who leads the NL with 37 multihit games. "So, in a way it's kind of bittersweet."
Todd Frazier doubled Tuesday but he's mired in a 9-for-45 slump in the past 12 games. He's homered twice in that stretch but is still tied with Washington's Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton of Miami for the NL lead with 27.
Frazier is 2 for 8 with a home run off Lackey.
Anthony DeSclafani (5-7, 3.98) takes the mound in search of his first win since beating Philadelphia on June 9. The rookie right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.75 ERA in seven starts since, including a 2.52 ERA without recording a decision in four road games.
He allowed three runs in seven innings of Friday's 6-5 loss at Colorado.
The Cardinals' Kolten Wong is 9 for 24 (.375) in the past six games matching his hit total over 54 at-bats in his previous 14. The second baseman hit a grand slam in Monday's 4-1 victory.
Cincinnati's Marlon Bryd was off Tuesday, but could return Wednesday since he's 10 for 29 with two homers and two doubles against Lackey. Byrd, though, is 1 for 20 this season against the Cardinals.