Adam Wainwright has taken full responsibility for his rough start, but he's also optimistic things will turn around.
The right-hander hopes that begins Friday night when the visiting St. Louis Cardinals face the San Diego Padres.
Not since posting a 9.88 ERA while losing his first three starts of 2012 has Wainwright (0-2, 8.27 ERA) struggled this mightily to open a season.
''That's not the first time he's not been exactly where he wants to be,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ''He demands a lot of himself and he'll get it right. I know right now he's frustrated.''
A two-time 20-game winner who was limited to 10 regular season and playoff games because of a torn Achilles in 2015, Wainwright has allowed 11 extra-base hits over 16 1/3 innings and struck out seven while walking nine.
''I'm not going to sugarcoat it and tell you I'm great and that guys are just getting lucky,'' he said. ''No. I'm throwing the ball in the middle of the plate and they're crushing it.''
After failing to hold a 4-1 lead at Atlanta on April 10, Wainwright surrendered a 4-0 cushion Saturday against Cincinnati, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings of the 9-8 defeat.
Following that outing, Wainwright addressed those critics who believe his career is on a downturn and that he's no longer capable of pitching at an elite level.
"I don't care what all those Twitter people out there calling for my retirement and all that (are saying)," he told MLB's official website. "I don't know how many times I have to tell people to relax, because you pitch a few games like this you don't deserve to tell them to relax.
"What I will and can say is I will come out of this, and I will be a very, very good pitcher. I'm just not there right now."
Both Wainwright and Matheny felt his velocity was good and there were more swings and misses on breaking balls against the Reds.
"The only way I can look at it in a positive light is the first three or four innings I was pretty crisp, and I need to draw off of that," said Wainwright, who didn't allow a run until the fourth.
He's 6-2 with a 1.52 ERA in eight starts against the Padres (6-10), last facing them in August 2014.
After concluding a 5-4 homestand with Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis (8-7) will try for a fourth consecutive road victory after scoring 31 runs during a three-game sweep at Atlanta.
Batting .345, Yadier Molina went 5 for 10 with two RBIs as the Cardinals dropped two of three to the Cubs. He's 4 for 9 against Andrew Cashner (0-1, 5.40), who yielded one earned run over 12 innings while going 1-0 in two starts against St. Louis in 2015.
After giving up eight runs in his first two 2016 outings, the right-hander allowed one in six innings of a 5-3, 14-inning victory over Arizona on Saturday.
The Padres failed to complete a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with Thursday's 11-1 loss. Jon Jay went 7 for 12 with two RBIs in the series.
This will be the first meeting since St. Louis traded Jay to San Diego for Jedd Gyorko in December. Gyorko is 5 for 27 with two homers, four RBIs and seven strikeouts for the Cardinals.
Melvin Upton Jr. last faced Wainwright in 2014, but is 4 for 9 with two doubles against him.
Matt Kemp's .130 average in 23 at-bats versus Wainwright is tied for the second lowest among the 52 pitchers he has faced at least 20 times.