Adding to Jake Arrieta's absurd streak on the mound would help the Chicago Cubs start a welcome run of their own.
Arrieta is just the man to help the Cubs shed their recent struggles when he tries to close a troubling trip with a series win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
After avoiding a losing streak through its first 32 games, Chicago (30-14) has dropped eight of 13 and is 3-5 on its nine-game trip. The Cubs snapped a season-high three-game skid with Tuesday's 12-3 victory over the Cardinals (24-22), and have a chance to take their first set of this trip after dropping two of three to both Milwaukee and San Francisco.
Chicago still became the first MLB team to reach 30 wins and holds a five-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central. The Cubs will try to add on with what has been a practically a sure thing with their ace on the mound.
Arrieta (8-0, 1.29 ERA) is looking to extend a franchise record by helping the Cubs to their 23rd consecutive regular-season win with him toeing the rubber. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 19-0 in that span behind a sparkling 0.86 ERA in 22 starts since losing to Philadelphia opposite Cole Hamels' no-hitter July 25.
Arrieta is the fifth pitcher in baseball's modern era to win at least 18 straight regular-season decisions, and his 29 consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs is the longest run since 1893.
He has also gone over a calendar year without a regular-season loss on the road, his last a 5-1 defeat at St. Louis on May 7, 2015. Arrieta is 16-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 20 road starts since then.
He struggled early in his latest but regrouped to log seven four-hit innings, allowing one run in Friday's 8-1 victory at San Francisco. After Joe Panik snapped his 20-inning road scoreless streak with a two-out RBI single in the third inning, Arrieta retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced.
''It was a battle for me,'' Arrieta said. ''I wasn't crisp until the third or fourth inning. Those guys are tough, top to bottom and they make you work. I had to adjust on the fly a little bit. I brought my B stuff and had to sequence differently.''
St. Louis will counter with Carlos Martinez, whose stuff hasn't been worthy of a very high rating this month.
After opening with a 1.93 ERA while winning all four of his April outings, Martinez (4-4, 3.56) is mired in a career-high four-start skid.
The right-hander has a 5.85 ERA in that span and hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in his last three starts. He has given up four runs in five innings of his last two, including Friday's 11-7 loss to Arizona.
Martinez allowed seven hits while walking three and striking out three, giving him nine walks and seven strikeouts in his last three starts.
"My command was a little bit off (Friday)," Martinez told MLB's official website. "I think it's a matter of finding a rhythm and control. But overall I feel mentally stable, and I try to keep a positive attitude."
He will face a Chicago lineup that finally broke out on Tuesday. After totaling six runs on their three-game skid, the Cubs reached the Cardinals for a dozen, their most since April 21.
One of Martinez's best starts came against the Cubs, whom he limited to three hits and one run in seven innings of a 5-3 victory on April 20 - the Cardinals' lone win in the three-game set. He is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his last four starts against Chicago.