(SportsNetwork.com) - Former reliever Carlos Martinez has quickly erased any doubts that he can be a capable starter for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The young right-hander brings a three-start winning streak into Monday's opener of a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.
Martinez began his St. Louis career with 78 appearances over the previous two seasons, but only eight of those were starts. However, this year he has made four starts of at least six innings since beginning the season in the bullpen and has given up just five runs over 25 frames as a starter. He is coming off Wednesday's 5-2 triumph over Philadelphia, which he held the Phils to a pair of runs on six hits and three walks over six innings.
The 23-year-old threw an inning of relief against the Cubs on April 5 and is 3-0 with a 1.73 earned run average in five total appearances on the year. He has a 2.61 ERA over 10 previous relief outings versus Chicago without a decision.
The Cardinals are coming off a successful weekend in which they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in three games to push their winning streak to six in a row overall. It wasn't an easy sweep, with St. Louis needing extra innings to capture each victory.
The Cards failed to hold a ninth-inning lead in Sunday's 3-2 win and the Pirates went ahead in the top of the 12th inning before Peter Bourjos came through with an infield single that plated a run to tie the contest again.
Kolten Wong then pushed his team to victory with a solo homer in the bottom of the 14th inning.
"Wow. That's all I got," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said when asked about the series. "I love the fight that I am seeing."
St. Louis will try to continue that fight tonight against Travis Wood, who takes aim at a third straight winning decision on Monday night for the Cubs.
Chicago has won all three of Wood's starts since he took a 5-1 loss at Colorado on April 10. The left-hander is 2-0 over his past three outings with a 2.37 ERA and is coming off a 6-2 home win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Wood was facing the Pirates for a second straight start and held them to a pair of runs over seven innings of a 6-2 victory. He scattered five hits and did not walk a batter while striking out a season-high nine.
The 28-year-old went 2-1 in five starts against the Cardinals last season, but with a 5.20 ERA.
The Cubs have lost three of their past four games, including a 5-3 setback to the struggling Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. Jason Hammel allowed three runs over six-plus innings in a no-decision and also drove in a run with a sac fly.
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant drove in runs during the fifth inning, with Bryant breaking out of an 0-for-11 slump with an RBI double.
"We did okay, we had opportunities," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "We're not really driving the ball like we can."
The Cubs and Cardinals split a weather-shortened two-game set in Chicago to begin the season. St. Louis won six of 10 at home versus the Cubs last season.