As the St. Louis Cardinals begin to see some off-field fallout from their hacking scandal, they'll try to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive defeat on the diamond Friday night.
Though Michael Wacha certainly gives them a chance to do so, their offense must find a way to come through against the visiting San Diego Padres.
Hours after the club announced the firing of scouting director Chris Correa on Thursday, St. Louis (51-27) fell 5-3 to San Diego in 11 innings. A member of the team's front office since 2009, Correa admitted he accessed the Houston Astros' player personnel database without proper authorization.
"At this time, it's still an ongoing investigation and there's really nothing more I can add at this point," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said prior to Thursday's contest.
As the team and the FBI deal with that matter, St. Louis must get back on track after being outscored 14-5 and going 1 for 29 with runners in scoring position while dropping a season-high three straight at home. The major league-leading Cardinals are 29-10 at Busch Stadium, where they've lost one series of at least three games.
"I just feel like it's one of those times when it's not falling your way," said right fielder Jason Heyward, who is 8 for 20 in the last five contests. "The last three games it's just been that one AB where we didn't get the hit."
Wacha (10-3, 2.77 ERA) allowed a season-high five runs in five innings of a 9-2 loss at Philadelphia on June 21, then rebounded to yield a run through six of Saturday's 8-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Looking to join Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole atop the majors with 11 wins, Wacha has a 4.17 ERA while splitting his last six starts.
However, he's 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in nine during his career when pitching on six days' rest - as will be the case Friday.
This will be the right-hander's first appearance against the Padres (38-43), who on Thursday scored one more run than during a three-game skid that ended with their third victory in 12 games at St. Louis. Will Venable belted a pinch-hit two-run homer in the 11th and Yangervis Solarte also went deep for San Diego, which tries to win back-to-back road contests for the first time since a four-game run May 26-June 6.
Solarte, who was ejected for arguing a strikeout in the sixth, is 8 for 20 in his last six games.
Andrew Cashner (3-9, 4.22) went 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in his first five June starts, then gave up two runs and struck out six without a walk in seven innings of a 7-2 win over Arizona on Saturday.
"I could have made some better pitches but I felt like I made some adjustments with my pitches," said Cashner, who walked 14 in his previous four outings.
Interim manager Pat Murphy believes Cashner earned some needed confidence from that effort.
"I think he showed mental toughness (Saturday) that reassured him that if he just stays the course, he can be pretty special," Murphy said.
Making his first start against the Cardinals, the right-hander faced them six times out of the bullpen but not since 2012.
Though Matt Carpenter is 5 for 34 (.147) in his last 10 games, he's batting .393 with 14 RBIs in 18 career contests against the Padres.