With the Milwaukee Brewers closing the gap in the National League wild card race, it's imperative the St. Louis Cardinals get a good start from Adam Wainwright this afternoon.
Wainwright, who is 0-3 over his last four starts and hasn't won since Aug. 26 at Cincinnati, returns to the mound to face the Chicago Cubs in the middle installment of a three-game series.
The right-hander has sparkled during his career at Wrigley Field, going 5-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 13 games (8 starts). He's 6-5 lifetime against the Cubs.
The Cardinals enter the day 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee and two in front of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second wild card spot.
St. Louis had a four-game winning streak broken Friday in a 5-4 final in 11 innings. David DeJesus had four hits, including the game-winning RBI single. Darwin Barney sent the game into extra innings with a two-out, two-run homer off Fernando Salas in the bottom of the ninth, robbing Chris Carpenter of a win in his season debut.
Carpenter hadn't appeared on a big-league mound since winning Game 7 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers last October. The veteran right-hander wasn't expected to pitch this season after shoulder issues led to a surgical procedure in July.
Instead, Carpenter held the Cubs to a pair of runs over five innings in his return. He threw 77 pitches and left with a 3-2 lead.
"My stuff wasn't as sharp as I'd like and it wasn't as sharp as it has been but I did the best I could to get as many outs as I could and give us a chance," said Carpenter. "It was fun to get back out there."
Darwin Barney homered and knocked in three runs for the Cubs, who broke a four-game losing streak.
"It's good for us to beat a team like them," said Barney. "The atmosphere was fun. It's good playing games that matter."
Travis Wood, who was on the wrong end of a 3-0 score on Monday against the Pirates, starts for the Cubs. He's 2-2 with a 5.64 ERA in five games versus St. Louis. Wood has started twice against the Cardinals this season, losing both times and pitching to an 11.45 ERA.
The Cardinals are 8-7 versus the Cubs this season despite losing five of seven in Chicago.