There’s no tougher challenge for NL teams these days than going up against Adam Wainwright(notes). Facing the St. Louis Cardinals ace at Busch Stadium has been a recipe for a near-certain loss - particularly for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The majors’ ERA leader already has two complete game home victories against the Brewers, meaning he’ll have a great chance to extend his 21-inning scoreless streak Wednesday and become the first pitcher to 18 wins in the finale of this two-game set.
Wainwright (17-6, 1.99 ERA) has been tough to hit all season, but he’s taken his pitching to a different level of late. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in five of his last seven starts, a stretch in which he’s 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA.
He followed up a two-hitter at Florida on Aug. 6 by limiting Cincinnati to two hits over seven innings in a 6-1 win last Wednesday afternoon.
Wainwright improved to 9-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 10 day starts, seven of which have come at Busch Stadium. He’s been virtually untouchable at home regardless of the time of day, going 11-0 with a 1.22 ERA.
The Brewers (55-65) don’t need any reminder of Wainwright’s ability to dominate. He struck out eight in a two-hit, 8-0 win June 4 at Busch, then was nearly as good a month later, allowing only a Corey Hart(notes) homer while needing 99 pitches to finish a 7-1 victory.
“Well, we did better than last time,” Hart told MLB.com. “We didn’t score any last time. I don’t know. He always seems to have something extra for us. He always seems dialed in.”
Wainwright is 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his last six starts overall versus Milwaukee. Hart, hitting .263 (10 for 38) with two homers, has fared the best against him. Ryan Braun (.184), Prince Fielder(notes) (.171), Rickie Weeks(notes) (.167) and Casey McGehee(notes) (.083) have particularly struggled against Wainwright.
McGehee will certainly be heading into this meeting on a high note, however. The Brewers third baseman hit a two-run homer off Jaime Garcia(notes) on Tuesday, the difference in a 3-2 win that dropped St. Louis two games behind division-leading Cincinnati.
McGehee is batting .411 (23 for 56) with five homers and 19 RBIs in his last 14 games.
“He’s on fire,” manager Ken Macha said. “I told him I didn’t want to stand next to him because I was afraid of spontaneous combustion.”
Randy Wolf(notes) (9-9, 4.86) was on the other side of Wainwright’s two-hitter in June, but he’s fared much better lately. Since getting roughed up for a career-high 12 runs in a 15-3 loss at Pittsburgh on July 21, the left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.16 ERA in his past four starts.
Wolf gave up four runs and five hits in the fourth inning Thursday against Arizona, but allowed only two hits in the other five innings he pitched in an 8-4 win.
“I gave up four,” Wolf said. “I could have easily given up a lot more than that.”
Colby Rasmus(notes) has also homered against Wolf this season, but the center fielder might not play Wednesday. Rasmus pinch hit Tuesday, but could be out of the starting lineup until this weekend after straining his right calf Sunday.