Seeking his first win in almost a month, Adam Wainwright surely likes his chances of getting back on track at Wrigley Field.
Wainwright and Wood square off as the St. Louis Cardinals continue a three-game set against the Cubs on Saturday.
Since going 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA over a seven-start stretch July 24-Aug. 26, Wainwright has posted an 0-3 record and 6.86 ERA over his last four outings. He showed signs of coming around, though, during Sunday's 5-2, 12-inning win at Los Angeles, giving up two runs and five hits over six innings.
If his recent efforts at Wrigley are any indication, Wainwright (13-13, 3.97 ERA) could take another step in the right direction. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last seven road starts versus the Cubs (59-92), a stretch during which he's struck out 43 in 44 innings.
Wainwright yielded a career worst-tying eight earned runs over three innings of a 9-5 loss to Chicago on April 13 before recording a 2.25 ERA in his two most recent matchups - both on the road.
No one on the Cubs has faced Wainwright more than Alfonso Soriano , who's gone 9 for 36 with 10 strikeouts in their matchups. David DeJesus is 8 for 19 with a homer against him, and he also proved to be a difficult out Friday during Chicago's 5-4 win.
The outfielder collected a career best-tying four hits, including the game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning.
The Cardinals (80-71) found themselves on the verge of a fifth consecutive win before Darwin Barney - batting .425 over his last 11 games - hit a game-tying two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Fernando Salas , who was trying to get the save with closer Jason Motte unavailable after pitching three straight days.
"We got to a two-run lead with two strikes in the ninth, but wouldn't finish it off," manager Mike Matheny said. "... (Salas has) been very, very good for us lately and he's been in that situation before so it's a good fit."
Sitting in the second NL wild-card spot with a 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee, the Cardinals have lost three in a row at Chicago for the first time since a seven-game skid in 2006.
They'll try to bounce back against Wood (6-12, 4.25), who hasn't enjoyed much recent success at Wrigley. He struck out a career-high nine but gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings during Monday's 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh, dropping to 0-5 with a 6.08 ERA over his last seven home outings.
Wood also fell to 2-9 with a 5.21 ERA since the All-Star break, giving him the most losses in the NL over that stretch.
The left-hander can't be looking forward to another matchup versus St. Louis after getting shelled in both meetings this season. He yielded seven runs in six innings during a 7-0 road loss July 22, then surrendered eight runs and a career-worst five homers in five innings of a 9-6 home defeat five days later.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|September 09, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Swollen left ankle|
|September 09, 2012||Matt Carpenter||Day-to-Day||Cut hand|
|September 09, 2012||Jake Westbrook||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|August 31, 2012||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|August 30, 2012||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow strain|
|August 28, 2012||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained upper back|
|September 11, 2012||Anthony Rizzo||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right shoulder|
|September 07, 2012||Blake Parker||60-Day DL||Bone contusion in right elbow|
|September 07, 2012||Brett Jackson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right knee|
|July 28, 2012||Matt Garza||60-Day DL||Stress reaction, right elbow|
|July 21, 2012||Matt Garza||Day-to-Day||Left game - right triceps cramp|
|June 16, 2012||Ryan Dempster||15-Day DL||Right lat tightness|
CHICAGO (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals were headed for another heartbreaking loss when Carlos Beltran turned it around with one big swing.
When Beltran got back to the dugout, starting pitcher Adam Wainwright showed his appreciation for the timely play.
"I kissed him right on the cheek. I'm not afraid to tell the whole world, either," Wainwright said. "I wanted to kiss him on the mouth. He saved me, he saved the team today."
Beltran hit a tying solo homer in the ninth and Jon Jay doubled in the winning run an inning later as the Cardinals bolstered their bid for another playoff appearance with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
St. Louis increased its lead for the second NL wild card to 2 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which lost 10-4 at Washington. The Los Angeles Dodgers are three back following a 6-0 loss at Cincinnati.
The defending World Series champion Cardinals have 10 games left in the regular season. They bounced back from an agonizing 11-inning loss at Wrigley Field the previous day.
After Matt Carpenter and Brian Anderson drew two-out walks from Jaye Chapman (0-1), Jay doubled down the right-field line.
"If we'd have lost that game, I don't think I'd sleep at all tonight," Wainwright said.
Mitchell Boggs (4-1) got the last out of the ninth. Jason Motte struck out the side in the 10th for his 39th save.
Beltran connected for his 30th homer, a one-out shot off Carlos Marmol that wrapped just inside the right-field foul pole. Marmol had been successful on 19 straight save chances dating to May 2.
"It's no secret you're going to get a fastball and you're gonna get a slider," Beltran said. "We were trying to put ourselves in a position to at least score a run. I was able to get a pitch to hit. In my mind, I'm just trying to put myself on the basepaths."
Before Beltran's drive, it appeared the Cardinals were going to blow another game against their arch rival in the most crucial time of the season.
St. Louis lost in dramatic fashion on Friday. Fernando Salas gave up a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer to Darwin Barney in the ninth to send the game to extra innings, and the Cubs won 5-4 in 11 on David DeJesus ' RBI single.
Both Boggs and Motte were unavailable.
"It was tough yesterday not putting (Boggs and Motte) in there, but we're gonna have to do that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "There are gonna be days where someone else has to step up."
On Matheny's 42nd birthday, St. Louis improved to 10-10 in September after going 18-8 in the final month last season, when the Cardinals squeezed into the playoffs on the final day of the season.
DeJesus' solo homer started a three-run rally in the sixth as Chicago nearly came from behind to knock off the Cardinals for a second straight day.
Travis Wood again failed to win at Wrigley, though he held St. Louis to two earned runs over five innings, striking out seven. He entered with an 0-5 record and a 6.08 ERA over his last seven home starts, but finished with a no-decision when the Cubs rallied.
"Every win counts. We're battling as hard as we can," Wood said. "We played pretty good today. We ended up taking a lead, just couldn't hold them off. That's a good team over there."
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina of the Cardinals left in the ninth with lower back spasms. He exited after trying to get away from a pitch from Marmol that nearly hit him.
"It was more low back. I don't know what it was, it just tightened up on him," Matheny said. "Trying to react at max speed doesn't help, either. Trainers were encouraged, thought it's something we'll be able to take a look at in the morning and adjust from there."
St. Louis stranded 13 batters and missed several chances to take command of the game. James Russell struck out pinch-hitter Shane Robinson with runners on the corners to end the eighth, while Marmol got Tony Cruz to fly out with the go-ahead run on third to end the ninth. Cruz pinch-hit for Molina.
Wainwright is winless over his last five starts. He allowed four runs and six hits over seven innings. He hasn't lost in his last eight starts at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs need to win four of their last 10 games to avoid the third 100-loss season in franchise history and first since 1966.
"We came back. I just loved the way the guys battled the whole game," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Win or lose, the guys are battling and not making it easy on anybody."
NOTES: Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) was shut down just a few pitches into his bullpen session. He will be re-evaluated Sunday. RHP Lance Lynn will start in Westbrook's place Monday at Houston. ... Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter felt "good sore" a day after his season debut Friday, according to Matheny. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Houston. ... Barney's errorless streak at second base reached an NL-record 137 games, four short of the major league record set by Detroit's Placido Polanco in 2007.