When the Cardinals and A's wrap up their three-game Interleague set on Sunday, it's already evident each team has impressed the other. Both these teams look like serious threats to return to the postseaosn, and each has shown why in the first two games this weekend.
After the A's won the opener behind Bartolo Colon's 11th victory, the Cardinals handed it right back to them with a dominant performance by Adam Wainwright for his 11th win -- both with ample offensive support for the mound gems.
On Sunday, it will be A's left-hander Tommy Milone taking the ball against Cardinals veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook in the decisive game of the weekend set.
Before the Cardinals arrived, A's manager Bob Melvin and his crew knew what they'd be in for when the balanced National League Central power played its first games in Oakland since 2007.
"They do everything well," Melvin said. "They pitch well, they hit well, they score runs, they play defense. They're a very good team. And then they have some depth within their roster, too. And then you look down the bullpen and you see they have some guys hurt, but they're running guys out there who seem like they're all throwing 95 mph. So, they've done some things on the scouting end of it to sustain what they do in St. Louis.
"And then on top of that, the aura that the Cardinals have goes a long way. They're a championship team that's had a lot of success, and whether it's the Yankees or some of the other high-profile teams, the Cardinals are up there as one of those elite organizations in all of baseball."
In 2013 terms, the A's have a homefield trend to uphold heading into Sunday's game. They had swept five of the previous six home series and still have won 15 of their last 18 home games after Saturday's loss.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, took a step Saturday toward getting their 11-game string of Interleague games on track, but they're still 2-5 thus far. They're now 14-13 in June after a 20-7 May.
In the meantime, the Cardinals find themselves in a three-way dogfight in the NL Central with the Pirates and the Reds.
"I think early on it became very apparent that there are a few teams in this division that are going to be in this for the long haul," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's going to be a tough division, but I don't know of any of our guys who are afraid of a fight. We're going to have that all season long."
Cardinals: Westbrook strong since DL stint
Westbrook will be making his fourth appearance since a stint on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, and he's been solid since his return with a 2-1 mark, allowing seven runs on 14 hits in 18 innings.
He earned the win over the Astros his last time out, allowing four earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts in six innings.
"I feel pretty good," Westbrook said. "You're always going to have to grind through some things, being 35 with the elbow and body I have. It felt good enough to work with my game tonight."
Westbrook has a 2.21 ERA that would be among the Majors' best, but he is 25 innings short of qualification.
A's: Milone looking for home cooking
• Making his 17th start of the season Sunday, Milone has had his struggles lately, going 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA and .288 opponents' batting average over his last three starts.
The good news for Sunday is he's at home, where he is 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA in seven starts compared to 3-4 with a 5.07 ERA in nine starts on the road.
• After Jarrod Parker's injury-shortened outing Saturday, A's starters are 20-6 with a 2.94 ERA (85 earned runs in 260 1/3 innings) and .223 opponents' batting average (214-for-958) over the last 39 games.
• Following Sunday's game, the Cardinals continue their Interleague road swing with a trip down to Southern California to play the Angels for three, starting Tuesday.
• The A's also have Monday off before hosting the Cubs for three games in Interleague Play.
• The A's are now 8-3 in Interleague Play, while the Cardinals are 5-6 this year, but now stand at 130-116 all-time for a .528 winning percentage that is tops among all NL teams.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.