Adam Wainwright had a solid outing last time out but didn't get enough support to take over the major league wins lead.
He hasn't usually needed too much help in home starts versus the San Diego Padres and will try to have another stellar performance against them Sunday in St. Louis while earning his 15th win.
Wainwright (14-7, 2.34 ERA) gave up three runs in seven innings Tuesday in a 3-0 loss at Miami. He has received one run or fewer in four of his last five outings, but had given up a combined 13 runs in his two prior losses.
"Waino was very good today. A couple things happened that were kind of atypical, but after that, we just can't be a team that doesn't score any runs," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website.
Wainwright's inability to get a 15th victory allowed Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto to take over the wins lead Friday. He'll try to move into a tie with Cueto while earning his fifth victory in as many home starts against San Diego.
Wainwright has a 0.84 ERA in those prior matchups in St. Louis and gave up two runs over eight innings in his most recent one, a 3-2 win July 21, 2013. He is 5-2 with a 1.20 ERA in seven overall starts against San Diego (58-64) and went 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA last season.
The Cardinals (65-57) could use another such effort to get back on track after a 9-5 loss Saturday. They squandered an early four-run lead and had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Jedd Gyorko hit his third career grand slam and added an RBI single for San Diego, which had won a season high-tying five in a row and 11 of 14 before arriving at Busch Stadium. Rookie Jake Goebbert hit a three-run triple, nearly doubling the four RBIs from his first 25 games.
The Cardinals are still atop the NL wild-card standings, a game ahead of San Francisco and 1 1/2 clear of Pittsburgh.
Odrisamer Despaigne (3-3, 2.72) will try to help the Padres leave St. Louis with a four-game split as he tries to build on an impressive outing. The rookie right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings and fanned a season-high eight in a 4-1 victory against Colorado on Tuesday after going 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in his previous three starts.
One of those was a 6-2 home loss to St. Louis on July 31 in which he allowed a season-high six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"He had better use of the fastball and threw it with a little more convention and that set up the other pitches," manager Bud Black said. "That is something we talked about in between starts. That was great to see that he took a pitching plan into the ballgame and executed it based on our conversation of fundamental pitching."
Oscar Taveras, who returned to the starting lineup Saturday after two days on the bench, hit a two-run homer off Despaigne in last month's victory - one of his two this season. Matt Carpenter had a pair of hits off Despaigne, and Matt Holliday hit a two-run single.
Holliday heads into this meeting in an 0-for-18 slump over the last five games.