Cardinals try for consecutive sweeps of Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Martinez is hoping his Thursday start against the Philadelphia Phillies goes a lot like his last.

The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander shut out Philadelphia on June 10 at Busch Stadium. He will take the mound again Thursday afternoon, squaring off against Aaron Nola in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park.

The Cardinals are looking for their second three-game sweep of the Phillies this month.

Martinez (6-5, 2.86 ERA) silenced the Phillies less than two weeks ago, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out 11 batters in a 109-pitch complete game. Martinez has nine quality starts in his past 10 outings.

"This was one of my goals, one of my dreams," Martinez said after the shutout. "I just feel so happy with my performance."

In his past six starts, the 25-year-old has a 1.77 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings, and he has held batters to a .159 batting average and .450 OPS. Martinez struck out eight and gave up one run in six innings in a win at Baltimore on Friday.

Nola (3-5, 4.76) also faced the Cardinals when Philadelphia visited St. Louis earlier this month. However, he didn't fare quite as well as Martinez.

Nola, the Phillies' first-round pick in the 2014 draft, gave up three runs on four hits in five innings during a 6-5 loss against the Cardinals on June 11.

In his lone start since, Nola was charged with five runs in six-plus innings against the Diamondbacks on Friday. Nola was in line for the win until Arizona outfielder Gregor Blanco took him deep for a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

"After six innings, two runs, he pitched pretty well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after Nola's last outing. "Then in the seventh, he just hung a curveball to Blanco, which is a mistake, and he got burned."

The Phillies are 1-5 in Nola's last six outings, but they have struggled regardless of who is on the mound since the end of April. Philadelphia has lost 13 of 14 and is 11-39 in its past 50 games.

The organization made some changes Tuesday before the start of the three-game set against the Cardinals. The Phillies called up outfielder Cameron Perkins and left-hander reliever Hoby Milner while designating outfielder Michael Saunders and reliever Jeanmar Gomez for assignment.

Perkins made his first major league start Wednesday night, going 2-for-6 with two singles, including his first big league hit, from the leadoff spot.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals might not want to leave Philadelphia. They are 5-0 against the Phillies this season and haven't won a series against any other team since taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs from May 12-14.

St. Louis won both of the first two games in Philadelphia in extra innings, including 7-6 on Wednesday when the Cardinals overcame a five-run deficit.

"It's kind of what we expect from ourselves," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's something our guys did a great job of last year, and it's carried over. We're not just going to roll over, we're going to keep playing the game."
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