Offense continues to come at a premium for the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium, and it likely won’t come any easier Tuesday night.
The Cubs (28-40) managed only one run and 16 hits while being swept in three games at St. Louis last July 20-22 in their most recent visit before this week. They didn’t fare much better in the series opener Monday night, scraping together five hits in a 5-2 loss. Chicago is 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position in its last four road games versus the Cardinals (45-25).
The Cubs have lost 10 of 15 and are batting .203 in the last 11.
“It’s tough for the team,” starter Travis Wood said Monday after giving up four runs over seven innings. “We’re scratching and clawing trying to get everything we can right now and trying to put together quality ball games.”
Wainwright (10-3, 2.18 ERA) continues to shut down opponents, compiling a 1.64 ERA while notching a victory in each of his past five outings.
He became baseball’s first 10-game winner Thursday against the Mets, not showing any sign of disruption from shortened pregame preparation as an expected rain delay never came to fruition. The right-hander yielded four hits and two walks over seven shutout innings, outdueling Matt Harvey in a 2-1 victory.
“My whole pregame routine was kind of thrown out of the window,” said Wainwright, who recorded his 1,000th career strikeout.
A few weeks ago, this might have looked like one of baseball’s premier pitching matchups, but Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (3-7, 3.46) has struggled more recently. He’s 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA over his last three starts, walking nine batters in 18 1-3 innings, compared to a 2-1 record and 1.13 ERA in his previous three.
He didn’t provide much reason for optimism in his most recent start, surrendering a season-high 10 hits and five runs across six innings Thursday against the Reds, though Chicago won 6-5 in 14 innings.
“I’m more upset with the leadoff singles and leadoff walk,” Samardzija told the team’s official website after issuing four walks. “Those walks come back to haunt you, and I think a couple of them scored today. You want to get that first hitter out, and that’s what they did a good job of today was to get me in the stretch early and make me stay there.”
Samardzija has seen mixed results versus the Cardinals, owning a 3-2 mark and 4.95 ERA in 16 games - five starts. He won his last game at Busch Stadium despite giving up five runs and 10 hits over five innings as the Cubs emerged with a 9-5 victory April 13, 2012.
Wainwright is 6-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 18 career starts versus the Cubs, but they’ve given him some trouble recently. He’s 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA over the last six. Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro are a combined 10 for 29 against him while Anthony Rizzo is 3 for 6.
No current Cardinal has homered off Samardzija in 96 at-bats, though Yadier Molina is 7 for 15 against him.
Molina had his eighth multihit effort in 13 games Monday, including a two-run double, and leads the NL with a .355 average.