It's been eight long months since Paul Maholm's last victory. Contrary to the results so far this year, the Chicago Cubs left-hander believes the turnaround is just around the corner.
"I couldn't tell you the last time I won," Maholm said after dropping his seventh straight decision in a 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. "My goal is to go out there and go seven innings and win the game no matter how the outing before went or whether it was good or bad.
"I think that's the only mindset you can have."
Jake Westbrook (2-0) allowed one earned run in seven strong innings and rookie Matt Carpenter homered, tripled and drove in five runs for the Cardinals.
Maholm (0-2) surrendered six runs in four innings, and he's 0-7 with a 7.03 ERA in nine starts since his last win on July 10, 2011 against the Cubs when he was with Pittsburgh.
"It was kind of the same thing as the first start where you give them baserunners and they take advantage of it," Maholm said. "It's frustrating, but I'm going to bust it this week.
"Both games it seemed every time I missed I was getting punished, and when you miss over the middle that's going to happen."
Carpenter has been getting regular duty while Lance Berkman recovers from a strained left calf and is batting .409 with 10 RBIs in 22 at-bats. He singled his first two trips with an RBI, belted a two-run shot to straightaway center off Lendy Castillo in the fifth for his first career homer and added a two-run triple off Rodrigo Lopez in the seventh.
Berkman missed the weekend series but could be back Tuesday when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Reds.
Yadier Molina hit a three-run homer off Maholm in the third and has six RBIs the last three games. Plus he threw out Marlon Byrd attempting to steal in the third.
Manager Dale Sveum believes Maholm's losing streak is taking its toll mentally.
"I'm not going to sit here and say it doesn't when you haven't had a win in a while," Sveum said. "It would be nice to break that streak or whatever, but I think sometimes it weighs on you.
"It's almost like a hitting slump. When am I going to get that next hit?"
Westbrook dropped 20 pounds in the offseason after a disappointing 2011 in which he went 12-9 but with a 4.66 ERA and was virtually unused in the Cardinals' World Series championship run. He pounded his sinker for 12 ground ball outs, and allowed four hits.
Reed Johnson had two hits and an RBI for the Cubs, who scored their second run on a wild pitch. They were outscored 15-4 the last two games after hammering Adam Wainwright in St. Louis' home opener for a 9-5 victory.
Westbrook allowed an unearned run in seven innings in his first start at Cincinnati. He's gotten plenty of support, with St. Louis scoring 17 runs his first two outings.
The Cardinals needed one hit to score twice in the second, with Carlos Beltran hit by a pitch and Molina walking setting the table to start the inning. Carpenter followed with an RBI single and Shane Robinson beat out the relay on a double play ball for a run-scoring groundout.
Rafael Furcal had been 0-for-12 before doubling to start a four-run third capped by Molina's homer.
The Cardinals are 12-6 against the Cubs the last two seasons and 8-2 at home.
Notes: The Cubs had been 8-for-10 on steals before Byrd was thrown out. ... Westbrook threw first-pitch strikes to nine of his first 11 batters. ... Two members of the Cubs rotation have no wins since July 10, 2011, with Chris Volstad 0-6 with a 4.17 ERA since beating the Astros. ... Beltran is batting .429 (9-for-21) with two homers and six RBIs against Maholm.