ST. LOUIS -- While the St. Louis Cardinals continued their recent trend of solid to outstanding work from their starting pitchers on Saturday, the Milwaukee Brewers kept moving the needle in the wrong direction.
Adam Wainwright's seven shutout innings gave St. Louis a 3-0 win and deepened Milwaukee's recent skid offensively. In losing three straight games, the Brewers have managed just two runs.
Weather permitting, Milwaukee will try to figure things out against the Cardinals in Sunday's series finale at Busch Stadium.
"We're in a little bit of a funk offensively," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We're just in one of those couple-day stretches of struggling to get things going and create opportunities."
St. Louis (42-38) has tended to do that to Milwaukee (35-45) in recent years. It owns a 6-2 advantage in this year's season series, outscoring it by 48-14, and is 45-20 against the Brewers, dating to the start of the 2013 season.
But a 90 percent chance of rain might present Milwaukee with a temporary reprieve. While the teams played through showers for most of Saturday's game, some forecasts are calling for as many as 2-3 inches of rain Sunday.
Nothing could dampen the Cardinals' mood after perhaps their best defensive game of the season. They turned four double plays, used a nifty deke at second base to steal an eighth-inning out and denied at least two hits with outstanding plays to turn hard-hit balls into outs.
It was a stark contrast from their previous three games, in which they made eight errors and other mental mistakes.
"Just good plays all the way around," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Being able to trust your defense is one of those confidence-boosters for your pitching staff. They don't have to be perfect."
Michael Wacha (4-7, 4.42 ERA) gets the call for the Cardinals on Sunday. He has pitched well in his last four starts, all of them quality, and has won two straight outings, including an 8-4 verdict on Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Wacha, who lost seven straight decisions from April 23 to June 22, has displayed much better command lately. He has hit the lower parts of the strike zone with his fastball, enabling him to use his changeup as a wipeout pitch.
Wacha, who's 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA in five career outings against the Brewers, will be opposed by right-hander Chase Anderson (4-8, 5.45). He's coming off a 6-5 loss on Tuesday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who rocked him for eight hits and six runs (five earned) in four innings.
That outing actually qualifies as an improvement of sorts for Anderson, who has been hit so hard in his last three starts that his ERA during that span dropped to 12.71 after Tuesday night. But he has enjoyed good outings in his two career starts against St. Louis, allowing only two earned runs in 12 innings.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is expected to make his 73rd start in 81 games and is looking to build on his 1,500th career hit that he accomplished in the fourth inning Saturday.
"He's been one of the greatest Cardinals ever," Wainwright said of his longtime battery mate. "We were excited for him."