After working 7 1/3 innings on Friday and 3 1/3 on Saturday, the Cardinals bullpen could use a break.
Lucky for St. Louis, No. 1 starter Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start in Sunday's series finale against the Rangers. The Cardinals will rely on their ace to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor start in his last outing to nab the win before heading to Houston to play the Astros on Tuesday.
Wainwright got off to a rocky start his last time out, surrendering his third and fourth home runs of the season, but settled down to retire 19 of his next 22 batters, scattering three hits after a four-run first inning. He only had given up two home runs on the entire season, but he surrendered back-to-back homers in the first inning.
"Four batters in a row, extra-base hits. I can't remember the last time I've ever done that, especially with two outs," Wainwright said. "To go to four straight extra-base hits with two outs is unforgivable. I put my team in a really tough spot."
This will be Wainwright's team-leading 16th start. He was the first pitcher to get to 10 wins when he beat the Mets on June 13. He's 7-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 Interleague games (13 starts).
Opposite Wainwright will be Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.84 ERA), who allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings in his last start against the A's on Monday. He is winless in his last six starts and 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA in his last three starts.
Opponents are hitting .168 in Tepesch's first time through the lineup, .260 through the second and .397 through the third. He has had just three at-bats against hitters through the fourth time in the lineup. His last win was on May 12.
"He's got to figure out what he's doing early to get outs and do it late," manager Ron Washington said. "Right now, he's getting challenged. That's just the way it is when you've got youth out there. There's no consistency. That's youth. We know they're capable of pitching, we just have to be patient. That's why we're not making waves about getting any of them out there.
Rangers: Cruz in the third spot, but not permanently
Nelson Cruz was back in the No. 3 spot in the lineup on Saturday night, but Rangers Washington is not ready to declare it his permanent spot. Washington suggested there is a possibility Lance Berkman could end up back in the No. 3 spot when he's healthy, hot and back in the lineup.
Cruz is hitting there now because the Rangers are playing in a National League city and there is no designated hitter being used. Berkman is available as a pinch-hitter, but he won't be in the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right knee on Thursday. Berkman will be back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Yankees in New York. He may not return to the No. 3 spot immediately, but Washington still likes him there because he draws walks and is a switch-hitter. Cruz has had some success in the No. 3 spot, going 7-for-18 with seven RBIs in the past four games. He usually hits fifth or sixth in the lineup.
"It just depends on what's best," Washington said. "Nelson's doing a good job and I know he can handle it. It just depends on what's best."
Cardinals: Fifth starter to be sorted out over time
With Tyler Lyons heading back to Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals are in need of a fifth starter in the rotation. But with three off-days in the next two weeks, the Cardinals will have ample time to sort it out.
"We've drawn up easily a dozen models already, trying to think of the pros and cons of each," manager Mike Matheny said. "The off-days offer some options. … We don't have to make a decision today, so we're not going to."
Matheny said if there is a start to be had, Joe Kelly will get the call. Kelly filled in for a spot start on June 5, when the rotation was knocked off track by a rainout that was rescheduled into a doubleheader. If an opportunity arises for a starter to get an additional day of rest, Matheny said it will likely go to rookie Shelby Miller.
"It's just a lot of puzzle work to see how that fits," Matheny said.
• The Rangers are 5-5 vs. the National League in 2013, including a 4-5 mark on the road.
• Each of Texas' last seven victories have been of the come-from-behind variety, with four of those decided in the seventh inning or later.
• Sunday will be the third of an 11-game stretch of Interleague games for the Cardinals (Texas, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles Angels). St. Louis is 127-113 in Interleague Play, the top winning percentage among all NL teams. The Cardinals are 3-3 in Interleague Play this season.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.