After the staff ace looked mortal for the first time this season on Friday, Michael Wacha will look to put together a strong outing Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Adam Wainwright's 25-inning scoreless streak was snapped in a hurry, as the Cubs jumped him with five runs in the first three innings and six overall in a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals.
Wacha (2-2, 2.48), whose last victory came against the Cubs on April 13, took a no-decision his last time out, allowing three runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts on Monday against the Brewers. He has struck out 19 batters over his previous two starts, covering 10 1/3 innings.
"I wouldn't credit it to anything really," Wacha said of finding his strikeout pitch as of late. "I think just doing a better job of just mixing it up on them and a little bit better job hitting your spots and keeping them off-balance and keeping them guessing, really."
Wacha opposes righty Jake Arrieta, who is making his first start of the year for the Cubs. He landed on the disabled list on March 30 with right shoulder tightness that was present at the start of Spring Training and went 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in five rehab starts -- four for Double-A Tennessee -- covering 20 innings.
"I'm feeling really strong," Arrieta said. "I feel like since I didn't have a normal Spring Training, it's kind of a different process, kind of being at the end of my Spring Training right now. I feel like I'm further along than that process would initially allow. Those are good things. I feel really strong and I'm ready to get going."
Arietta, who went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts last season after he was traded to the Cubs from Baltimore, said he's eager to get back on a Major League mound, given the unpredictability of rehabilitation assignments.
"Not having a set routine, traveling all over the place, throwing an inning here, an inning there ... it's nice to be done with that and be back here with the team every five days taking the ball and competing," Arrieta said.
Cardinals: Tuesday's starter up in the air
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny used Thursday's off-day to skip his fifth starter and keep his other starters on normal rest. That means lefty Tyler Lyons was passed over, but the Cardinals have yet to name a starter for Tuesday's contest in Atlanta.
Lyons pitched in Friday's 6-5 loss to the Cubs, but needed just nine pitches to toss a scoreless inning, so it remains a good possibility he'll start Tuesday. At the same time, the Cardinals' bullpen needs may take priority.
"We could have him out [in the bullpen] tomorrow too," manager Mike Matheny said of Lyons before Friday's game. "Could be next couple of days."
Cubs: Hoyer admires Cards' model for success
Jed Hoyer knew when he took the job as Theo Epstein's general manager that the Cubs' rebuilding process wouldn't be easy and would require patience.
With the Cardinals in town, he can't help but notice how one of baseball's model franchises does business.
"This wasn't built in a year or five years or 10," Hoyer said of the Cardinals. "It's been built over 20 or 50. It's a culture of winning. It seems they have the ability to hand it down from generation to generation -- [Chris] Carpenter hands it over to Wainwright, who will probably hand it to Wacha some day. You feel they have real nice continuity. Matheny hands it over to [Yadier] Molina."
Hoyer also took note of the Cardinals' continuity in the front office and ownership.
"That coupled with a lot of really good decisions has helped create this," Hoyer said. "It's certainly not built overnight but it's something to aspire to."
• Wainwright lost for the first time in 17 games (12 starts) at Wrigley Field on Friday.
• With a sixth-inning single on Friday, Allen Craig extended his hitting streak to six games. He's hitting .400 (10-for-25) in that span.
• Jhonny Peralta's third-inning RBI dboule off Travis Wood on Friday was just his second hit in 19 at-bats against left-handed pitchers.
• Anthony Rizzo is batting .404 (19-for-47) in 14 games at Wrigley Field. He has homered in back-to-back games for the first time since July 31-Aug. 1, 2013.
• Welington Castillo has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, and hit a career-high three doubles on Friday. He's the first Cubs catcher with three doubles in one game since Damon Berryhill did so, Sept. 16, 1990, vs. the Cardinals.
• Ryan Sweeney had to leave Friday's game with a sore right hamstring. The Cubs were expected to make a roster move on Saturday and add another outfielder.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.