After sitting out all of last season following Tommy John surgery, the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright has yet to find his form in 2012.
A visit to Wrigley Field could be just what he needs to get on track.
Hoping to put his disastrous start to the season behind him, Wainwright looks to win a sixth consecutive outing at Wrigley as the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs continue a three-game set Tuesday night.
Wainwright (0-3, 9.88 ERA), who won a combined 39 games in 2009 and 2010 while compiling a 2.53 ERA, suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow prior to last season. The 2010 NL Cy Young award runner-up has a had rough time in his first three turns in the rotation, allowing 15 runs over 13 2-3 innings.
"That's a radical surgery and I think we've made light of it to some point because so many guys have had it and bounced back," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He's just got to be patient with himself and realize it's not going to come as easily as it used to. And that will pass and he'll be just as he always was."
After giving up a career high-tying eight earned runs over three innings of a 9-5 loss to Chicago (5-12) on April 13, the right-hander surrendered four runs over five innings in Thursday's 6-3 defeat to Cincinnati. Both outings were at home.
"I think the takeaway for me (Thursday) is you remember the feeling of losing three games in a row, especially the last two," Wainwright said. "That's not a feeling I want to keep having. I'm the only guy that's not giving our team a great chance to win right now and I take that personally."
While Wainwright was awful against the Cubs earlier this month, he's made them look silly while winning his last five starts on Chicago's North Side with a 2.81 ERA. Wainwright's winning streak at Wrigley is the longest active run by an opposing pitcher at the ballpark.
Chicago beat the reigning World Series champions 3-2 in walk-off fashion in Monday's series opener. St. Louis (11-6) took a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth before closer Jason Motte gave up a two-run, two-out single to Cubs third baseman Joe Mather, a former Cardinal.
"These are the kind of things you have to build on," said Bryan LaHair, who drew a pinch-hit walk to begin the ninth-inning rally.
Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 5.71), who defeated Wainwright on April 13 despite giving up five runs in five innings, takes the mound hoping to regroup after struggling again during Thursday's 5-3 loss at Miami. The right-hander was tagged for five runs, eight hits and five walks over 3 2-3 innings.
Samardzija is surely looking forward to getting back home, where he allowed three runs - one earned - and struck out a career-high eight over 8 2-3 innings of a 4-3 win over Washington in his season debut April 8.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro singled Monday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he's batting .409. Castro, who's reached base safely in 56 of his last 57 games, has also gotten a hit in 11 straight against St. Louis. He is 4 for 7 lifetime against Wainwright.
Last in the majors with five homers, the Cubs have failed to go deep in any of their last nine games - their longest such stretch since a 10-game drought June 30-July 13, 2007.