Run support is a pitcher's best friend.
In the case of starter Michael Wacha of the Cardinals and Brandon McCarthy of the D-backs, who will square off on Wednesday, it has at times been more of a long-lost friend.
Through nine starts, both pitchers' run support ranks in the bottom 10 of starters in the National League. McCarthy has received an average of 2.67 runs per start this season while Wacha has gotten an average of 2.89.
McCarthy will enter Wednesday's start after taking a no-decision his last time out when he went eight innings, allowing one run against Washington. Wacha is 3-3 despite logging quality starts in seven of nine appearances this season.
"I look at my outings not really in the win-loss category," Wacha said after he beat the Cubs, 5-3, to even his record last Thursday. "Definitely, you want to see more wins, because that means your team is winning. But it's kind of on you and how you feel you pitched that day."
McCarthy has been hit-or-miss through the first two months of the season, allowing at least five earned runs in four starts. Three times, he's went at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs. In those games, he has picked up one lone victory.
McCarthy's focus, too, hasn't been on wins, but improving on the mound.
"It was rough the first few weeks where we just felt like the five outcasts and it didn't matter who was starting, it was like we were the guys sitting outside wasting everybody's time," McCarthy said of the rotation. "At least now, we are contributing again and having some better performances and taking us deeper into games, which is what we were meant to do from the beginning, it just took us a little while to get going."
Something will have to give when the two pitchers meet on Wednesday. In Tuesday's series opener, Arizona managed just one hit against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals broke out of a power slump, collecting two home runs after not having one in the previous eight games.
St. Louis has now scored at least four runs in each of its last eight games.
"We didn't stress the first couple months of the season the way our offense was," Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams said after homering on Tuesday. "We know this is the offense that we're capable of every night. We're doing a great job right now just going out there, being aggressive, and especially with runners in scoring position."
D-backs: Prado returns, Hill gets more time
Martin Prado was back in the lineup on Tuesday after a scare on Sunday against the Dodgers when he exited with blurred vision in his left eye.
Prado saw an eye doctor on Monday in Phoenix and was diagnosed with an allergic reaction. He went 0-for-3 in Tuesday's loss.
"I was concerned it was only one eye," Prado said. "That's why I wanted to see a doctor to see if there's something else in there. But everything was fine and it was just an allergy in my left eye. With the medicine it goes away."
Meanwhile, three days after being scratched from the lineup Saturday with a sore shoulder, second baseman Aaron Hill was held out of the lineup for a third straight game on Tuesday. He'll take batting practice on Wednesday and could return to the lineup if all goes well.
"We're just being cautious. It feels much better," manager Kirk Gibson said before Tuesday's game.
Cardinals: Rosenthal expected to be available
One pitch could have made all the difference for Trevor Rosenthal and the Cardinals, but it wouldn't have changed the closer's status on Tuesday.
Pitching his fourth game in as many days on Sunday, Rosenthal walked in the tying run and another run later crossed as the Braves avoided a series sweep. Rosenthal was unavailable to pitch out of the bullpen for Tuesday's series opener.
"That was the plan all along," manager Mike Matheny said on Tuesday. "If we had to use him on Sunday, we were going to give him two days."
Rosenthal had successfully saved three games in three days when he was asked to go for a fourth on Sunday. Instead, a 3-2 pitch was called a ball and Rosenthal eventually took his second blown save and loss.
It turned out the Cardinals didn't need Rosenthal or any of their bullpen arms on Tuesday as Wainwright went the distance in a one-hit shutout. In its last five games, St. Louis' bullpen has tossed only eight innings.
• With a single in the first inning on Tuesday night, Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday, who finished 2-for-4, has scored a run or picked up a base hit in 14 straight games. He's also reached base safely in all 19 games at Busch Stadium this season.
• The shutout at the hands of Wainwright marked the sixth time this season that the D-backs have been blanked.
• Before Matt Adams hit a two-run home run in the first inning on Tuesday night, the Cardinals had gone 281 at-bats without a homer, a span of eight games dating to May 9.
• Arizona's lone hit on Tuesday -- a fourth-inning double -- came from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who has had a strong season on the road. Goldschmidt has hit safely in 18 of 23 road games (28-for-90).
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.