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The San Francisco Giants will try to pick up where they left before the All-Star break when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

The Giants take baseball’s best record — 57-32 — into the opener of the three-game series at Busch Stadium. They swept the Washington Nationals in three games before the break.

“I can tell you we feel good about ourselves, as we should,” Giants catcher Curt Casali said. “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point. Definitely proving some people wrong is some nice icing on the cake, but we’re just trying to keep it rolling.”

Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (9-3, 1.73 ERA) struck out nine and held the Nationals to one run in six innings on Sunday. The right-hander was named to the All-Star Game but didn’t pitch, so he can go Friday.

“When he gets the ball every fifth day, we know we’ve got a chance to win,” Giants pitcher Alex Wood said. “We feel like he’s going to go out there and dominate. You can kind of sense it in his presence and his attitude in between starts and the day of. To have a guy like that at the top of your rotation, it’s been a blast to watch.”

The Cardinals earned a 5-3 victory over Gausman on July 5, but they scored just two runs on three hits in seven innings against him.

Gausman is 0-3 with a 3.97 ERA in seven career appearances against the Cardinals, including three starts. Matt Carpenter (4-for-9, triple, three RBIs) and Paul Goldschmidt (2-for-4, homer) have hit well against him.

The Cardinals are expected to counter with Adam Wainwright, whose scheduled start Sunday in Chicago was rained out.

Wainwright (7-5, 3.58 ERA) earned a 6-5 victory over the Giants on July 6 in his last start. He walked four and allowed seven hits in five innings but held the Giants to three runs.

He is 8-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 18 career outings against the Giants, including 16 starts. Brandon Crawford (9-for-33, three doubles, six RBIs) and Mike Yastrzemski (3-for-6) have done well against him.

The Cardinals come out of the break with a 44-46 record and are eight games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

“We’ve always been a second-half organization,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “I can tell you we’ve given what we have to this point, and it’s not been to where we’d like to be. We cannot control what any other teams do in this league. We can only control how we play. And this group is going to be dedicated to putting their heads down and playing the best baseball they can.”

The Cardinals played well down the stretch in 2019 to win the NL Central title.

“We’ve got the core nucleus of guys who have gone through it and know what it looks like,” Shildt said. “We have an opportunity in the second half. We’ve done it the last three years. There’s no reason we can’t do it this year.”

–Field Level Media