Michael Wacha's unbeaten run to start the season and subsequent consistency have helped the St. Louis Cardinals possess one of the majors' stingiest rotations.
The Philadelphia Phillies no doubt are envious, as their starting pitching continues to extend a club-record run of futility that in part has forced them to turn to a minor leaguer with a winless streak of his own.
Wacha takes the mound Sunday as the visiting Cardinals look to win a sixth straight meeting with the Phillies, who give the ball to Adam Morgan for his major league debut.
St. Louis (45-23) leads all of baseball with a 2.61 ERA and is tied with Pittsburgh atop the majors with a 2.91 ERA from its starters. Wacha (9-2, 2.48 ERA) has been a huge contributor to those numbers, especially while becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to start 7-0 since 2005 with a 1.87 ERA through his first nine starts.
The right-hander has slipped a little, posting a 3.86 ERA over his last four. He had a solid outing Tuesday, though, giving up two runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win over Minnesota.
"He just comes out and makes pitches," manager Mike Matheny said. "I thought his fastball got better as the game went, which made his changeup even better. Just another quality start for us."
The right-hander's toughest outing during his initial hot stretch came against the visiting Phillies (23-47) on April 28, when he allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-5 victory.
Wacha has never started in Philadelphia, but he's 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in eight road starts this season. That's six more wins that the entire Phillies' rotation has no matter location over the last 25 games after falling 10-1 to St. Louis on Saturday.
Aaron Harang suffered the loss, dropping Philadelphia starters to 0-16 with a 5.97 ERA since Cole Hamels beat Washington on May 23. The last team to go 25 games without a win from its starting pitchers was San Diego in 2009, and no club has gone at least 26 since Tampa Bay's 28-game stretch in 2006.
Manager Ryne Sandberg hopes Morgan can end Philadelphia's run, but the 25-year-old left-hander has a 4.74 ERA in the minors this season while going winless in 13 starts.
Morgan's major league debut has been delayed due to a shoulder injury suffered in 2013 that required surgery early the next year. Still, Sandberg has seen enough to give Morgan a shot.
"He's been throwing well," Sandberg told MLB's official website. "I think it will be good to add a left-hander in the mix here, and he's been doing a good job. He's done well. Saw him in the spring with what he had, so I'm anxious to see him."
Morgan hopes to provide some relief for a rotation that ranks near the bottom of the majors with a 4.89 ERA. The Phillies have lost 21 of 25 since Hamels' victory last month and have been outscored 74-21 over their last 11.
Randal Grichuk has gone 3 for 5 in both games of this set, homering in Friday's 12-4 win and hitting two more Saturday. Jason Heyward is 8 for 16 in his last four for the Cardinals, who hold a 47-15 scoring edge during a five-game winning streak against the Phillies.
Cody Asche provided Philadelphia's lone run Saturday with a homer in the second inning.
''These aren't fun games,'' said Asche, whose home run was his first since April 22.