Round two between the two consensus favorites in the National League Central begins on Monday night as the Reds open a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis took the first round, beating Cincinnati two out of three times in another home series, April 8-10.
The Cardinals are coming off consecutive losses to the Pirates, whom they now trail by a half-game in the division. They remain a game ahead of the Brewers and Reds, who won on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep in Washington.
St. Louis will have its ace on the mound, as the red-hot Adam Wainwright faces off with Mat Latos.
Wainwright (4-1, 1.93 ERA) didn't pitch in the teams' previous series. He owns a 4.29 career ERA against the Reds, including 5.29 over three starts last season.
The right-hander has been dominant in his first five starts. Although he issued his first walk of the year on Tuesday, he gave up only five hits and struck out nine over 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Wainwright's strikeout-to-walk ratio now stands at 37-to-1.
"He's doing everything you could ask," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's great to see him go through the lineup three and four times and see him pitch them differently in the fourth at-bat than he did the first one, completely different with guys on base than when they're leading off an nobody's on. He and [catcher Yadier Molina] have been working well together, but Adam really has a good feel for all his pitches. When that happens, he's exciting to watch."
Latos (1-0, 2.16) also has been stellar, although a pair of blown saves have helped keep his record modest. The righty is 5-for-5 in quality starts, including seven scoreless innings against the Cubs in his last outing, when he allowed only four hits despite saying that he "didn't have anything."
"I had a four-seamer and a two-seamer, [that] was all I had today. It was tough," Latos said. "Everybody in the big leagues can hit a fastball. It was just a matter of hitting my spots and being able to make key pitches when I needed to."
Latos went six innings against the Cardinals on April 8 and gave up four runs, only one earned, in six innings.
Reds: Heisey dealing with hamstring problem
• Left fielder Chris Heisey did not play on Sunday, a day after leaving the game with a strained right hamstring. Xavier Paul got the start, even against against lefty Ross Detwiler.
The Reds already are playing without outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who is out until at least July after undergoing shoulder surgery.
• Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo began the season by reaching base safely at least once in each of his first 22 games. That streak ended on Friday, but Choo has been back on base in both of his two games since.
Cardinals: Carpenter doesn't miss start
• Matt Carpenter left Saturday's game in the ninth inning after feeling some tightness in his side but received treatment and was cleared for action on Sunday, when he hit leadoff and played second base. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
"I felt good, so I'm back in there," Carpenter said before the game. "Obviously, I felt something [on Saturday], and it was an awkward swing. I was stretching the rest of the game, but I didn't think it was anything serious. I felt pretty good about it."
• Center fielder Jon Jay should be back in the lineup on Monday after sitting out against Pirates lefty Jeff Locke on Sunday. Jay, who later came off the bench and drew a walk, is 4-for-8 over his last four games following an 0-for-19 skid.
• Since the start of the 2003 season, the Cardinals are 23-3-2 in the series against the Reds in St. Louis.
• Latos' 10.23 ERA in five starts at Busch Stadium is his highest at any park where he has pitched more than once.
• Current Reds have combined for a .519 OPS in 119 plate appearances against Wainwright. That includes a 1-for-17 mark by Joey Votto.
Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.