May 17, 2014

ST. LOUIS -- It was a sight interim manager Brian Snitker hasn't seen at all this year.

The Atlanta Braves, who entered Saturday night's game with the fewest homers in the majors at 66, not only clouted a season-high four in a game, but also tallied a season-high 13 runs in a rout of the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was nice," Snitker said. "We haven't done that much, but I think we're more capable now."

Atlanta's offensive capability gets a test in Sunday's rubber game of the weekend series as it will have to solve St. Louis veteran Adam Wainwright (9-5, 4.14 ERA), who owns an 8-2 mark and a 2.95 ERA in 16 career outings (11 starts) against the organization which drafted him.

Wainwright is coming off a no-decision Tuesday night in a 7-5 loss at Cincinnati, going just five innings and allowing two runs. Wainwright's pitch count reached 101 at his stint's end, and manager Mike Matheny's decision to remove Wainwright led to a series of double-switches and moves to the bullpen that culminated in closer Seung Hwan Oh yielding a walkoff three-run homer to Scott Schebler.

The Braves (40-70) send hard-throwing right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 4.60) to the bump. Foltynewicz, a former first-round pick of the Houston Astros, is coming off a 5-3 loss Tuesday night to Pittsburgh, but has shown the potential to be a stopper at times this year.

The Cardinals (58-52) enter this one tied with Miami, a 12-6 loser Saturday night in Colorado, for the National League's second wild-card spot. But they are 2-3 in a nine-game stretch against Cincinnati and Atlanta, two of the league's three last-place teams.

It is not known whether St. Louis will have catcher Yadier Molina available Sunday. He left Saturday night's game in the eighth inning for pinch-hitter Matt Adams with a right hand contusion after getting hit with a foul tip.

Second baseman Matt Carpenter also departed Saturday night's game early as part of a double-switch following the fifth inning. Matheny said that Carpenter didn't look right swinging the bat, and Carpenter's status for Sunday isn't known

Matheny did take some solace in his team's comeback from a 7-2 deficit. The Cardinals drew within 7-5 with a two-run eighth inning and had the tying run at the plate before Kolten Wong fanned for the third out.

"I thought we showed a lot of life in that particular inning, putting the pressure on them," Matheny said of the eighth. "We almost put the go-ahead run at the plate."

As for the Braves, they at least appear to have improved their offense with the addition of left fielder Matt Kemp last weekend in a trade with San Diego. Kemp swatted his first homer for Atlanta Saturday night, a two-run clout in the ninth.

It was the 24th homer of the year for Kemp, who when added to Freeman and red-hot center fielder Ender Inciarte (17-game hitting streak) gives the Braves something to build around.

"I think that first homer could give Matt a little bit of confidence," Snitker said. "I'm sure he was pressing a bit with a new team."

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