It isn't often that Adam Wainwright picks up a loss. It's even more rare that the Cardinals ace will lose three in a row -- something he's done just three times in his seven-year career, the most recent being late last season (Aug. 31-Sept. 11).
But after dropping two straight for the first time this season, Wainwright will be hoping to avoid exactly that Saturday against the Athletics.
With Wainwright on the mound, the Cardinals will take on the A's for the middle meeting of a three-game Interleague series. St. Louis is in the midst of an eight-game stretch of games in American League West ballparks.
"You have the obvious difference with the DH and the pitcher not hitting," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Other than that, it's the normal adjustments when you're facing teams you haven't seen much and doing all your research to make sure you've prepared as well as you can."
Matheny suggested that the Cardinals will continue to rotate players at designated hitter, allowing several starting position players to essentially work half-days. In the first three games of the trip, Matheny used Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the DH spot, inserting bench players Shane Robinson and Matt Adams as starters in the field.
The A's knocked the Cardinals off their perch atop the Majors with a 6-1 victory Friday night, preventing St. Louis from keeping pace with the Pirates for the best record in baseball, a title the Cardinals have held since May 21.
"You see the numbers, they're a very good team," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "They're leading the league in hitting, they're leading the league in defense, they're percentage points down in ERA. It's a complete team that can beat you in a lot of different ways, so you have to play very well to beat them."
Friday's win gave the A's (47-34) their best record after 81 games since 1992, when they were 48-33. The 47 victories are already Oakland's most before the All-Star Game since 2008 when they went 51-44 into the break.
Jarrod Parker will toe the rubber opposite Wainwright. Since dropping his first four decisions to begin the year, the A's right-hander has lost just two games in his past 11 starts, picking up six victories.
A's: Catcher position in flux
Either John Jaso or Derek Norris will start at catcher on Saturday.
Recent callup Stephen Vogt has started the past three games, homering Friday night for his first big league hit after an 0-for-32 start, and Norris will likely get the nod with Jaso's injured left hand still in question.
Cardinals: Kelly makes extended relief appearance
Right-hander Joe Kelly is in line to join the rotation on July 6, but in the meantime, he will continue as an option out of the bullpen.
Kelly pitched 5 1/3 innings of relief Friday, allowing three hits and one run after starter Shelby Miller was lifted in the second inning.
Multiple off-days have allowed the Cardinals to operate with a four-man rotation until a fifth starter is needed.
• A.J. Griffin tossed the A's third complete-game shutout of the season Wednesday, which is most in the American League and second most in the Majors behind the Cardinals' four.
• Wainwright's 10.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in the Majors by a wide margin. The next closest is Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma at 5.88. Wainwright has walked just 10 batters through 116 2/3 innings.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.