Considering he wasn't even penciled into a rotation spot throughout most of spring training, Lance Lynn was a particularly unlikely candidate to become the first major league pitcher to reach 10 wins this season.
The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander, however, may find himself with that distinction Wednesday night if he can outduel Jake Peavy and end the Chicago White Sox's eight-game road winning streak.
A contributor out of the bullpen during St. Louis' World Series run last fall, Lynn was slotted into the Cardinals' rotation only when ace Chris Carpenter went on the shelf with a shoulder injury in March.
Lynn (9-2, 2.66 ERA) has made the most of the opportunity by allowing three runs or fewer in 11 of his 12 starts while striking out 74 in 74 1-3 innings.
He fanned a career-high 11 in Thursday's 14-2 win at Houston.
"You could tell he felt really good," manager Mike Matheny said. "The ball was jumping out of his hand."
That victory kept him even with another improbable standout - the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey - for the MLB lead. Dickey is also scheduled to start Wednesday.
This will be Lynn's first interleague start, although he's allowed seven runs over 11 2-3 innings in eight relief outings versus AL foes. That includes five appearances in the World Series against Texas.
Peavy (6-1, 3.05) has extensive experience against the NL from his days with San Diego, and he has dominated his former league since joining the White Sox. With 6 1-3 innings in a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on May 20, he improved to 6-0 with a 1.81 ERA in seven interleague outings - six starts - since moving to the AL.
The right-hander hasn't faced St. Louis since 2008, but he's been sharp against most opponents lately. That's been especially true on the road, where Peavy is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last eight starts dating back to last year.
The White Sox (34-27) won the series opener 6-1 on Tuesday, extending what is now their longest winning streak away from home since a 12-game run June 4-July 3, 2000. Their 18-9 road record in 2012 is easily the best in the majors.
A familiar trio keyed Tuesday's victory. A.J. Pierzynski was 3 for 4 with his 11th homer, Adam Dunn went deep for the 21st time and Paul Konerko had three hits to boost his MLB-leading average to .373.
"Offensively, we have the ability to hit it out," manager Robin Ventura told the team's official website. "You take it whenever you can."
The Cardinals (31-31) lost for the ninth time in 13 games and are in danger of falling below .500 for the first time this season. They haven't had a losing record any later than April since finishing 2007 at 78-84.
"We're going through a spot right now and you could see the contrast," Matheny said. "You could see one team with a lot of confidence and one team on the other side with not so much. We've got to figure out how to get it back."
That starts with leadoff man Rafael Furcal, who is in an 0-for-15 slump to see his average drop to .299. He grounded into one of three St. Louis double plays Tuesday.
The Cardinals had 11 hits in the series opener, but they've drawn just five walks while totaling six runs in four games to begin this homestand. They lost two of three to Cleveland over the weekend.