The St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright enjoyed his best outing of the season last week, but that wasn't enough to give him his first win since returning from Tommy John surgery.
The right-hander will get another chance Tuesday night when the Cardinals continue their lengthy stretch against NL Central foes in the opener a three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA) won a career-high 20 games in 2010 and 64 over a four-season stretch before needing to replace an elbow ligament in his throwing arm. The initial returns on his comeback weren't good as Wainwright posted a 9.88 ERA through his first three starts.
He's also received zero runs of support, though, an issue that kept the Cardinals (14-8) from taking advantage of his strong fourth outing last Tuesday in Chicago. Wainwright gave up one run, one walk and six hits over six innings while striking out a season-high seven in a 3-2, 10-inning loss.
Wainwright had a four-start win streak against the Pirates snapped during his most recent matchup Aug. 24, 2010. Pittsburgh (10-12) heads into this series having alternated losses and wins over its last 10 contests, beginning with a home series against St. Louis.
The Pirates, who lost two of three in that set, scored more than five runs for the first time this season in Monday's 9-3 win at Atlanta. That was the longest streak since the 1972 Milwaukee Brewers went a major league-worst 31 games into the season without scoring at least six.
While the Pirates try to build on their best offensive effort, Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65) hopes to produce another strong outing. The right-hander earned his first win Wednesday against Colorado by allowing one run over seven innings.
Morton gave up two runs and four hits over five innings during a 4-1 loss April 20, his third straight defeat against St. Louis. He's 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in four career starts at Busch Stadium, allowing 39 baserunners in 17 2-3 innings.
Morton let 11 Cardinals reach and gave up five runs over 4 1-3 innings in an 8-4 loss there Aug. 25.
The Cardinals finished April with a respectable 14-8 record but there are those in the clubhouse who felt it should have been so much more.
"We could have had an epic month, but it turned out to just be a decent month," said first baseman Lance Berkman, still disabled because of a left calf strain.
Berkman, in part, was referring to four one-run losses, all of them coming in games the Cardinals led.
"I feel like we're suffered some bad losses this month," he said. "With the potential that this team has, this is a nice month, but it's certainly not our best."
In the bigger picture, though, the Cardinals might have done quite well to be 14-8 in April. They started it, of course, without first baseman Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa, who have moved on.
Right-hander Chris Carpenter hasn't pitched an inning because of a nerve problem which has weakened his right shoulder. And Berkman, one of their offensive stars last season, also has been injured and has had only 23 at-bats.
The Cardinals have split their last 10 games before starting a three-game series with Pittsburgh in St. Louis on Tuesday.
As when they went 2-for-14 with men in scoring position on Sunday in a one-run loss, the Cardinals, despite ranking high in the league statistics in runs scored, often haven't been up to snuff when they've had a chance to drive in runners.
"You've got to do that to win consistently," manager Mike Matheny said.
1B Lance Berkman still has not run after suffering a recurrence of his calf injury on April 19. He is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list this weekend in Houston, but that is not a sure thing.
OF/INF Allen Craig is expected to come off the disabled list on Tuesday after a rehabilitation option at Class A Palm Beach and then at Class AAA Memphis. Craig had November knee surgery.
RHP Scott Linebrink, who has a shoulder problem, felt tightness during a bullpen throwing session on Sunday and does not appear close to returning. When Linebrink, hurt the day after it was announced he made the club in spring training, is able to pitch, he will need several games on a rehabilitation program in the minors.
CF Jon Jay is riding a nine-game hitting streak. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, he is batting .308.
RHP Adam Wainwright will make his fifth bid for his first victory on Tuesday when he faces Pittsburgh. Wainwright, slow to round into form after missing last year following Tommy John elbow surgery, was much better in his last outing, holding Chicago to one run in six innings in a no-decision.
By The Numbers:
13-8—The Cardinals' record in 21 consecutive games against National League Central Division opponents.
Quote To Note:
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot and we need to remedy that quickly."
—1B Lance Berkman, lamenting the club's recent inability to win close games.