Adam Wainwright has rediscovered an important part of his repertoire for the St. Louis Cardinals, which doesn't bode well for a New York Mets lineup that has shown improvement behind its star third baseman.
As Wainwright hopes to register his fourth victory, David Wright looks to extend his hitting streak to 13 games Tuesday night when the Mets try to take the first two in this four-game series.
After allowing season highs of four runs and seven hits over seven innings in a 10-4 home win over the Chicago Cubs on April 12, Wainwright (3-1, 1.80 ERA) shined in an 8-0 victory at Washington on Thursday.
The right-hander gave up two hits in his seventh career shutout, retiring 18 consecutive batters during one stretch. He's struck out at least seven in all four starts, ranking among the NL leaders with 32 in 30 innings.
"My cutter was back," Wainwright said. "That was a big pitch for me, something that when I'm throwing that quality, good, hard cutter (and) not a sloppy slurvy slider thing, it keeps those lefties honest.''
St. Louis starters have again been among the best in baseball with a 2.33 ERA, including a 0.90 mark over the last eight games. The Cardinals (11-9), however, have gone 4-4 over that span while totaling four runs in the defeats.
They were shut out for the third time in a 2-0 loss Monday, dropping to 2-4 in their last six games.
''Being frustrated, I don't think there's anything wrong with that,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''I think the bigger story is that our offense will get going on a consistent basis.''
Wright delivered a key hit for the Mets (10-9) with an RBI single in the third inning to extend his hitting streak. He has eight hits in his last three games and is batting .429 over his last nine against St. Louis.
Wright has gone 5 for 14 with two doubles when facing Wainwright, while Daniel Murphy is 6 for 11 with a triple and two doubles.
Bobby Abreu could make his debut for the Mets after getting called up Monday. The 40-year-old slugger hit .395 with one homer and nine RBIs in 15 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.
New York starter Dillon Gee (1-0, 3.71) will try to build on Wednesday's strong outing when he retired the first 14 batters and allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings in a 5-2 win at Arizona.
''It all kind of clicked, and I felt pretty good,'' said Gee, who pitched at least six innings for the 24th time in 26 starts.
The right-hander, who has limited opponents to a .196 batting average, has gone 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three home starts against the Cardinals.
Matt Holiday and Yadier Molina are a combined 5 for 24 off Gee, while Allen Craig is 4 for 8 with a home run. With two hits Monday, Molina is batting .408 over a 12-game hitting streak.
Wainwright has received 18 runs of support in his last two outings after being given two runs in his first two. He had an 8.46 ERA while losing four straight starts against New York before allowing four hits over seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 road win June 13.