The St. Louis Cardinals missed out on their latest opportunity to move into a tie for first place in the NL Central.
They'll hope for the same chance Thursday night at home as they battle the Boston Red Sox for a series win with their ace also looking for a bounce-back effort and a major league-best 14th win.St. Louis (60-52) fell 2-1 Wednesday, evening the series and ending a three-game winning streak. The five-hit effort was another reminder of the lack of sustained offense as the Cardinals try to catch Milwaukee, which kept its one-game lead atop the division.Matt Adams collected two of those hits and is batting .423 in seven games against the AL this season, but such lofty numbers have been elusive lately. Since July 13, the Cardinals have scored an NL-worst 55 runs with a .238 average while going 8-9.Adam Wainwright (13-6, 2.26 ERA), who will be out to win 14 games for the fifth straight season, suffered through one of his worst starts of the season Friday, yielding seven runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-4 loss to Milwaukee. The right-hander, though, doesn't see a need for any kind of adjustment."It was not an easy night," Wainwright told MLB's official website. "I made some good pitches tonight, and they worked me hard. A good team does that sometimes. There's really nothing to point to."His numbers leading into the start support the lack of concern. The poor start to August came after going 5-2 with a 1.40 ERA in nine starts through June and July.The right-hander has never faced Boston in the regular season, but he lost twice to the Red Sox in last season's World Series with a 4.50 ERA. David Ortiz is 3 for 5 against Wainwright while Dustin Pedroia is 3 for 6. Yoenis Cespedes is 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.Boston (50-63) won for the third time in 14 games Wednesday after Xander Bogaerts went 1 for 3 with two RBIs, including the eventual winning sacrifice fly with the bases loaded off closer Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth inning. Bogaerts had been hitless in 11 at-bats over his previous three games.That hasn't been uncommon throughout the lineup. Offensively, the Red Sox have put up an MLB-low 37 runs while batting .224 over the 3-11 stretch since July 22.Jackie Bradley Jr. has gone 0 for 21 with 10 strikeouts over his last six games with a plate appearance."(With Jackie) we're trying to focus on some early work," manager John Farrell said. "We're trying to shorten up his approach at the plate -- he was doing such a great job of that leading into the All-Star break."On the mound for Boston, Brandon Workman (1-4, 4.08) also logged some innings in last year's Fall Classic, though in a considerably more limited role. The right-hander went 0-1 while allowing an unearned run and three hits in 3 1/3 innings of three relief appearances, his only career action against St. Louis.More recently, his July 30 return to the rotation was shaky, allowing five runs -- two earned -- and four hits with four walks in five innings of a 6-1 loss to Toronto."Couldn't get ahead of anybody," Workman said. "I put the first two guys on, they both ended up scoring. So yeah, it was definitely a matter all game of fighting command a little bit."Workman, who replaced Jon Lester in the rotation as the club anticipated a deadline deal, has dropped four straight starts with a 5.87 ERA.