July 02, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- The long national nightmare is over, at least for a few hours.

When the St. Louis Cardinals polished off a 7-1 victory Friday night over the Milwaukee Brewers, it snapped a seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium -- their longest skid at home in 33 years.

"We've won at home before and we'll win a lot more at home," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said when asked about ending the streak. "Hopefully, we'll cool that talk off for a few more days and piece together some more wins."

Weather permitting, the Cardinals (41-38) get that opportunity Saturday when they resume their series with Milwaukee. There is an 80 percent chance of rain Saturday and a 100 percent chance of rain for Sunday's series finale, with some forecasts predicting between 3-to-5 inches of rain for the weekend's remainder.

If the rain holds off, St. Louis will try to build on Friday night's game while continuing its recent trend of success against the Brewers. It is 5-2 against Milwaukee this year, outscoring it 45-14.

In the previous three years, the Cardinals have won 39 of 57 games against the Brewers, including 13 of 19 last year.

"We haven't played well against this team," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "I don't have any explanation for it ... we just haven't played well."

The matchup of starting pitchers suggests the Brewers might be in for another tough time. St. Louis is going with Adam Wainwright (6-5, 5.04 ERA), who faces Milwaukee for the first time since rupturing his Achilles' tendon April 25, 2015 at Miller Park.

Wainwright is coming off a 6-2 loss Monday night in Kansas City, but is 12-8 with a 2.32 ERA in 32 career appearances (25 starts) against the Brewers. Four of his last nine starts against them have resulted in complete games.

On the other hand, Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson is 0-5 with a 9.51 ERA in six games (five starts) against the Cardinals. Nelson (5-6, 3.60) fired five shutout innings Sunday but was no-decisioned in the Brewers' 3-2 loss to Washington.

Nelson will have to deal with a St. Louis lineup that profited from the return of rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz on Friday night. Diaz, who missed the last three games after fouling a pitch off his right eye Monday night in Kansas City, bagged two hits and an RBI while fielding 11 chances flawlessly.

"He played pretty good defense behind me with one eye," joked Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, who picked up the win with eight innings of work.

St. Louis could also welcome back right fielder Stephen Piscotty to the lineup. He's missed the last two games since injuring his ankle in the 12th inning of a 3-2 loss Wednesday night to Kansas City as he slid toward Alcides Escobar's eventual game-winning double.

Piscotty was held out of the lineup Friday night, although he reported the range of motion had returned to his ankle. He's been the team's cleanup hitter most of the year, batting .288 with nine homers and 40 RBIs.

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