Milwaukee Brewers (61-50) at St. Louis Cardinals (58-51), 2:15 p.m. (ET)

08/02/2014 10:03 AM

08/03/2014 9:41 AM

(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Cardinals acquired John Lackey to give them another go-to starter in the playoffs, but on Sunday the veteran will first be tasked with securing his new team a big series win.

Lackey and the Cards will try to further cut into the Milwaukee Brewers' lead atop the National League Central on Sunday afternoon when the rivals wrap a three-game series.

St. Louis sent young hurler Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig to Boston on Thursday to acquire Lackey, who went 11-7 with a 3.60 earned run average in 21 starts with the Red Sox this season.

Lackey, one win shy of 150 for his career in the regular season, has won a pair of World Series championships, first with the Anaheim Angels in 2002 and then last season with Boston, and he'll team with Adam Wainwright in St. Louis to give the Cardinals a feared 1-2 punch in the rotation.

"I guess it's better than the other way," Lackey told St. Louis' website of being known as a big-game pitcher. "You want your teammates to think they've got a chance when they're going into a big one with you. I've been fortunate enough to win a few [titles]. Hopefully, I'll do it again."

The 35-year-old's debut with the Cardinals comes against the Brewers, who he hasn't faced since June 17, 2011. He got a win after hurling eight innings of four-run ball in his first ever start versus Milwaukee.

St. Louis also acquired starter Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday and he made his Cards debut on Saturday night. Though charged with five runs over six innings in his return from right knee inflammation, Masterson was backed by a 12-hit attack to win a 9-7 decision.

"It's awesome. That's what you play the game for," Masterson said when asked about playing for his new team. "That's what makes it fun, when you're going out there. It just brings a team together."

Kolten Wong highlighted the offense with three hits and three RBI for the Cardinals, who had lost three of four but pulled to within two games of the Brewers for first place.

Ryan Braun and Scooter Gennett both had two RBI for Milwaukee, which saw starter Kyle Lohse get tagged for nine runs -- seven earned -- on nine hits and three walks in four-plus innings.

"That's one of the things I pride myself on, is even when things go a little haywire early, just being able to battle and keep your team in it," said Lohse.

Milwaukee was denied a third straight win and will try to take today's rubber match behind Matt Garza, who has posted back-to-back one-run outings.

Garza beat the New York Mets on July 24, logging eight innings and scattering two hits, one a solo homer. He then got a no-decision versus Tampa Bay on Tuesday, giving up a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the sixth inning.

"He stayed inside ... and I paid for it," Garza said of the longball.

The 30-year-old righty sits at 7-7 with a 3.74 ERA on the year and is 3-3 against the Cardinals lifetime with a 4.81 ERA in nine starts.

St. Louis is 6-5 versus Milwaukee this year after going 14-5 in this rivalry a season ago.

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