(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Cardinals try to keep rolling and aim for a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates when the NL Central rivals clash Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals have won three straight and six of eight games, and are putting pressure on the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, who have lost four in a row and eight of nine games. Milwaukee is just two games ahead of St. Louis in the division standings and will host the Cardinals this weekend.
St. Louis didn't need late-inning heroics in Wednesday's 5-2 win, as Lance Lynn delivered 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball and three relievers kept the Pirates off the scoreboard.
"He's one of those guys that I think gets overlooked a lot," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Lynn. "Really threw a nice game for us."
Trevor Rosenthal posted his 27th save in the ninth.
Kolten Wong, who was the hero in Tuesday's 5-4 win with a walk-off homer, went deep again, while Matt Adams finished 3-for-5 with two RBI. Adams hit the game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth on Monday.
The Cardinals lost All-Star catcher Yadier Molina to a thumb injury on Wednesday and are hoping it's not serious. Molina was originally diagnosed with a sprained thumb and will be further evaluated on Thursday.
"Any time we have to take him out, you know it's pretty bad," Matheny said. "But we'll know more tomorrow. He went through some tests, and you could feel some irritation there, obviously. He got it taped up and was convinced he was going back in, but we needed to get it looked at."
Tony Cruz filled in for Molina and could be the battery mate of Thursday's starter Shelby Miller. Miller is winless (0-2) in his last five starts and 1-5 in his previous six decisions. He did not factor in the outcome of a 6-5 loss to Miami on Saturday and gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Miller has a 7-7 record with a 4.15 earned run average and is 2-5 with a 4.70 ERA in seven career starts against Pittsburgh. The right-hander has faced the Pirates three times this season, going 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA.
Pittsburgh had won three straight and 12 of 15 games until this trip to the Gateway City.
Brandon Cumpton was dealt the loss for giving up four runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. Cumpton is in the rotation as a replacement for injured starter Gerrit Cole.
Neil Walker homered and finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored in defeat. He is riding an 11-game hitting streak.
The Pirates have lost four in a row on the road and had prevailed in five straight series as the visitor. They will visit the Cincinnati Reds this weekend for three games. The Reds are two games ahead of Pittsburgh for third place in the NL Central and 2 1/2 games off the lead.
Taking the mound for Pittsburgh Thursday will be Edinson Volquez. Volquez is 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA and has won three straight and six of his last eight decisions. Volquez threw six shutout innings against the New York Mets on June 29, then delivered seven innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 6-2 triumph versus Philadelphia. He has been charged with only two earned runs in last three appearances.
Volquez has faced the Cardinals three times this season and is 0-1. In 13 career starts against St. Louis, Volquez has a 3-6 record to go along with a 5.58 ERA.
St. Louis is 7-5 against Pittsburgh this season.