Wainwright will try to lead the surging Cardinals to their fifth win in six games when they wrap up a weekend series against Chico and the Nationals on Sunday.
Wainwright (4-3, 6.02 ERA) looks to post his fourth straight win at Busch Stadium for St. Louis (20-26). In April, the right-hander was 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA at home for the defending World Series champions. In May, though, Wainwright has turned around his fortunes, going 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA at Busch.
Part of the reason for Wainwright’s home turnaround has been the Cards’ offense. He’s received 17 runs of support at home this month compared to only one in April.
He gave up two runs and nine hits with a season-high six strikeouts over 5 1-3 innings Tuesday night, en route to a 9-4 win over Pittsburgh.
“The name of the game is controlling your fastball,” Wainwright said. “And for the most part, I did that better tonight. … From the third inning on, I was able to make some adjustments and get the ball a little bit more down, get the ball moving down instead of moving sideways. And that makes a big difference.”
Keeping the ball in the park has also helped. Since allowing a home run in the third inning of his season debut on April 17, Wainwright hasn’t given up any in a span of 25 innings.
Wainwright faced Washington (20-30) twice in relief last season and allowed one walk in 2 1-3 innings.
Chico (3-4, 5.54) will try again to post his first career win on the road for the Nationals. The rookie left-hander is 0-4 with a 6.31 ERA in five road appearances, while going 3-0 with a 4.74 ERA in five home starts.
He failed to record a decision in his last outing, allowing three hits over 5 2-3 innings on Tuesday in an 8-4 win at Cincinnati. Two of those hits, though, were two-run homers by Ken Griffey Jr. and David Ross.
Chico, who’s surrendered nine homers in 50 1-3 innings, has never faced St. Louis.
The Cardinals have split the first two games of this series after posting an 8-6 victory Saturday night in a contest that was delayed 1 hour, 41 minutes by rain with two outs in the ninth inning.
“It was our fault,” said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who made three pitching changes in the middle of innings. “We had a couple of relievers that needed relief. We should have closed those innings out sooner, and we wouldn’t have had to worry about it. Now we’ve got the rubber game tomorrow - in a little while.”
Jim Edmonds was 2-for-4 with three RBIs to pace St. Louis’ offense. Seven of Edmonds’ 16 RBIs have come in his last four games.
The Nationals fell to 9-3 this season when scoring at least six runs.
Kearns has a modest four-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .529 (9-for-17). His hot hitting, though, has produced only two RBIs.