The St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright has earned his fair share of wins this season, but he hasn’t tasted victory in almost a month.
It’s been quite a bit longer since he’s gotten the best of the Chicago Cubs.
Looking to stay unbeaten at Wrigley Field, Wainwright tries to defeat the Cubs for the first time in almost three years in Sunday’s series finale.
While Wainwright (13-7, 2.71 ERA) beat San Diego 3-2 on July 21 to become the first NL pitcher to 13 wins, he has gone 0-2 with a 4.18 ERA in four starts since. The All-Star right-hander allowed three runs and five hits - including two homers - in seven innings Tuesday in a 4-3, 14-inning win over Pittsburgh.
Wainwright, who was pitching on three extra days of rest, set season highs with three walks and 122 pitches. Manager Mike Matheny called it the “gutsiest performance we’ve had all year.”
Wainwright now turns his attention to the Cubs (53-69), who have given him trouble the last few years. Since beating Chicago 7-1 on Sept. 24, 2010, Wainwright has gone 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA during a six-start stretch in the series. He is 5-0 in 10 career starts at Wrigley despite a 4.04 ERA.
Wainwright likely isn’t looking forward to facing David DeJesus and Darwin Barney, who are a combined 17 for 44 with nine extra-base hits - three homers - in their matchups.
After dropping Friday’s opener 7-0, the Cardinals (70-52) bounced back Saturday with a 4-0 victory. Joe Kelly threw six sharp innings and Yadier Molina delivered a two-run homer.
Loser in five of six overall, Chicago dropped to 2-12 in its last 14 home games after going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Starlin Castro was removed after making a costly mental error in the fifth inning.
Castro caught a popup in shallow left field with one out and the bases loaded, but allowed Jon Jay to score from third after putting his head down and hesitating to throw home.
“He’s played in the big leagues long enough and we’ve had our discussions,” manager Dale Sveum said of the 23-year-old shortstop. “There comes a point where you have to cross that bridge and get to the next level. He feels as bad as anybody, he knows what happened and he feels awful right now.”
Besides Saturday’s defensive blunder, Castro is hitless in his last 16 at-bats and hitting .244 on the season - more than 40 points lower than his .285 career mark.
“It’s bad. It’s an unbelievable year,” he said. “I’ve never had a year like that. I feel really bad, especially with the mistake today and my struggling at home plate. But I don’t put my head down. I know I can be good and finish strong.”
The Cubs will try to bounce back behind Edwin Jackson (7-12, 5.05), who takes the mound for the first time since allowing four runs, six hits and three walks over five innings in an 8-4 loss at St. Louis last Sunday.
Jackson, who won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011, is 2-4 with a 4.68 ERA in 10 starts - including playoffs - against his former team. Both those wins, though, have come at what was his home ballpark, including a 3-0 victory at Wrigley on July 11.
After going 0-5 with a 7.83 ERA in his first six home starts, Jackson has allowed three runs in 27 2-3 innings during a four-start winning streak on the North Side.
Molina is 9 for 18 with three homers off Jackson, and Allen Craig is 6 for 13.