Cubs-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

Following a series of breakout performances at the plate to begin August, the St. Louis Cardinals' offense has gone back into hiding.

After being shut out at home by the Cubs for the first time in 16 years, the Cardinals will try to get their bats going again in an effort to avoid a four-game skid Saturday night.

St. Louis (66-49) scored 10 runs in a seven-game skid to end July, plated 44 while winning three of their first four in August and now have totaled 12 during a 1-4 stretch.

The Cardinals mustered seven hits Friday and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position for the second straight day on their way to a 3-0 loss to Chicago (51-64). It was the first time St. Louis was blanked at home by the Cubs since June 23, 1997.

"Very few chances," manager Mike Matheny said.

The Cardinals are 6-5 against the Cubs even though Chicago is hitting just .225 in the season series. St. Louis has been held to seven runs in its five losses.

Jon Jay, however, has a .395 average against the Cubs this year after getting three hits - two doubles - Friday. The center fielder has been on a tear over the past 10 games overall, hitting .405.

The Cardinals will give the ball to Michael Wacha (1-0, 4.58 ERA) for what appears to be a spot start after moving Adam Wainwright back to Tuesday against first-place Pittsburgh.

The 22-year-old right-hander, drafted 19th overall in 2012, made his first three starts in the majors earlier this season before being returned to Triple-A Memphis on June 13.

Wacha would like to make this stint permanent.

"That's the main goal right now. To be up here and stay up here," Wacha told the team's official website. "The main focus is just going out there and pitching the best I can on Saturday, and hopefully help this rotation out, get a little breather, maybe a little rest in some of the guys arms and hopefully make a little run down the stretch here."

Wacha compiled a 3.62 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 32 1-3 innings over his last six starts with Memphis.

"When I was down in Memphis, just kept on working on my control," Wacha said. "Working on spotting up all my pitches. I think that went pretty well."

The Cubs have won two of three following a 1-8 stretch, but they've lost five straight with Carlos Villanueva (2-8, 4.16) on the mound.

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.17 ERA in six games since rejoining the rotation July 7, though he certainly can't be blamed for the latest defeat. Villanueva yielded one run and two hits in six innings of Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"What's going to make me feel good is if we win," Villanueva told the team's official website. "You can't really take the individual (accomplishment). The individuals (are) for the agents and fans and whoever cares about the numbers that way. For us it's more about the wins."

Villanueva has won three of four starts in St. Louis despite a 4.88 ERA. However, the most recent came with Toronto on June 25, 2011.

He's 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two home starts against the Cardinals in 2013.

What to Read Next