An Adam Wainwright loss began the St. Louis Cardinals' current slump, though that's yet to cost them their lead in the race for the NL's second wild-card spot.
His dominance of the San Diego Padres could go a long way in helping St. Louis end its funk Tuesday night.
The Cardinals fell 11-3 to the Padres in the series opener Monday and had their lead for that second wild-card spot cut to one game over the idle Los Angeles Dodgers, whom they'll face in a crucial four-game set beginning Thursday.
Pete Kozma went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for St. Louis (75-66), which has dropped six of its last seven on the road and four of five overall.
"Ugly,'' manager Mike Matheny said. "We got a lead, quickly lost it, then couldn't get it stopped. We just had a rough time getting people out.''
Wainwright (13-12, 4.04 ERA) allowed five runs in five innings of a 6-2 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, which was the start of the Cardinals' current funk.
The right-hander won each of his five starts with a 1.47 ERA from Aug. 4-26, but he gave up six runs in 2 2-3 innings - tying the shortest start of his career - of a 10-0 loss at Washington on Aug. 31 before his most recent defeat.
"Not good,'' Wainwright said. "I wasn't sharp by any means.''
Wainwright, though, has been stellar against the Padres, going 3-1 with a 0.58 ERA in four career starts. He pitched a four-hitter and struck out nine in a 4-0 home victory May 22.
His only defeat came at San Diego on May 25, 2010, when he struck out a career high-tying 12 in seven innings of a 1-0 loss.
Wainwright will again look to shut down the Padres' lineup, which tied its season high for runs scored and pounded out 17 hits in Monday's victory.
Cameron Maybin, who hit a two-run homer and went 3 for 4, was one of four players with at least three hits. Chris Denorfia went 4 for 6 and drove in a pair of runs.
San Diego (67-75) has won nine of its last 11 at home and five of six overall.
"We kept putting the pressure on (Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia) and we had a lot of big, two-out hits,'' manager Bud Black said.
The Padres will look to keep rolling with help from Edinson Volquez, who is back in the rotation after missing his last start.
Volquez (9-10, 4.27) last pitched Sept. 1, when he gave up five runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-1 loss at Colorado. He skipped Saturday's start due to a blister on his right thumb.
"It's been troubling him over his last few starts, so we felt it was time to let it heal," Black told the team's official website.
The right-hander gave up three runs in six innings while losing to Wainwright in May, dropping to 0-4 with a 6.82 ERA over his last six starts versus the Cardinals.
He hasn't had much success in his career versus Matt Holliday (6 for 15, two homers) nor Carlos Beltran (5 for 9).
The Padres may be without Carlos Quentin for this matchup after the left fielder exited Monday's game in the fourth inning with a sore right knee. He was starting his second straight game after missing the previous five with the same injury.