ST. LOUIS -- Michael Wacha arrived in St. Louis on Friday to much a quieter scene compared to his much-hyped debut in late May. Wacha's focus now is on making sure this is his last return to the big leagues, hoping for a more permanent stay.
"That's the main goal right now. To be up here and stay up here," Wacha said. "When I was down in Memphis, just kept on working on my control. Working on spotting up all my pitches. I think that went pretty well."
Wacha rejoined the Cardinals on Friday and a corresponding roster move is expected to take place Saturday before his fourth Major League start. The Cardinals adjusted the rotation, inserting Wacha in the second game against the Cubs to give the rest of the starters an extra day of rest. Adam Wainwright's next start, which was initially scheduled for Saturday, will be bumped to Tuesday, giving him an additional three days of rest and lining him up to pitch the series opener against first-place Pittsburgh.
In three starts with St. Louis, Wacha was 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA. He debuted with an impressive two-hit, one-run performance, but stumbled in his second start with six earned runs and 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings. Wacha had a better outing in his last start -- two earned runs, five hits, three walks in six innings -- before he was optioned back to Triple-A when Jake Westbrook came off the disabled list.
"I think it was very valuable," Wacha said of his first big league stint. "It gave me an opportunity to come up here and see how my stuff played. It also pointed out a lot of my weaknesses, as well. Going back down to Memphis, I was able to work on those."
Wacha said one of those improvements was to work on keeping his pitches down in the zone. He said when he got into trouble in the Majors, it was often because of leaving pitches up over the plate.
The Cardinals have taken a cautious approach with Wacha, who has fast-tracked through the Minor Leagues since he was selected No. 19 overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander was on a six-day rotation schedule at Triple-A to monitor his innings load. Wacha posted a 3.51 ERA in six starts since his demotion, striking out 39 to four walks in 33 1/3 innings.
Wacha said he hasn't been informed of the team's plans for him beyond Saturday's start.
"The main focus is just going out there and pitching the best I can on Saturday," he said, "and hopefully help this rotation out, get a little breather, maybe a little rest in some of the guys arms and hopefully make a little run down the stretch here."
Descalso, Matheny ejected from Friday's loss
ST. LOUIS -- When Daniel Descalso stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals' offense was in desperate need of a spark.
Down 3-0 with one out on the board, Descalso worked a 3-2 count with seven pitches, then took issue with the eighth -- a called third strike he thought was outside the strike zone. Descalso argued with home-plate umpire David Rackley, headed to the dugout and briefly returned to the field to protest the call further, and was ejected by Rackley.
"Obviously, I didn't like the call and I let him know about it. I just sort of snapped there," Descalso said.
Manager Mike Matheny immediately went out onto the field to protest the ejection and was also tossed from the game.
"I understand nobody likes being yelled at, but at that point in the game, I felt that didn't have to happen," Matheny said. "They do what they feel they need to do to defend themselves."
Matheny said some other players also had issues with the strike zone on similar inside pitches throughout the game.
"I don't know if they were blatant pitches, but they were obviously ones that eventually put us in a hole," he said. "At this level, I want our guys fighting for themselves and fighting for each other. They didn't like the zone."
Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran was walked on the next at-bat and had Descalso been issued a walk, Matt Carpenter, who flied out to deep right field to end the game, would have represented the tying run.
"That's why I was [ticked]," he said. "Thought I had a walk there."
Descalso said he looked at video of the pitch after he was ejected and still wasn't swayed.
"I still don't like it, but I can't do anything about it now," he said. "All I'm going to say is I told him I didn't like the call and he didn't like what I had to say."
Cards not pressing with low home run count
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals entered Friday ranked third in the Majors with 222 doubles, yet hit just five in this week's four-game series against the Dodgers and have been without an extra-base hit in their last two games, both losses.
Excluding a four-game stretch in which they scored 44 runs on 54 hits, the Cardinals have just 19 extra-base hits since July 25 and have manufactured much of this year's offensive production without the aid of the home run, ranking fourth lowest in the Majors with 91 this season.
"Those will come but it's something that you don't teach; you don't preach a philosophy of going out and trying to hit a home run," manager Mike Matheny said. "Just like we don't try and necessarily preach the extra-base hit. You just practice a good swing and hopefully extra-base hits, home runs are a natural by-product."
Of the Cardinals' 91 homers, 52 have come in opposing ballparks. Last season, St. Louis knocked 83 out of Busch Stadium compared to 76 on the road.
"This park's always played very fair in my opinion. You've got to get it to get it out of here, but if you get it, most of the times it will go," Matheny said. "But there's a number of times this season I've seen balls hit that I was certain would be multiple rows up, but they end up being caught on the warning track. What the reason is, I'm not sure, but it is playing a little different this season."
Molina on track in recovery, but no timetable
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny said Friday that catcher Yadier Molina is progressing well in his rehab back from a sprained right knee. Molina threw a few days ago and hit in the cage for the first time Friday afternoon.
Molina is eligible to come off the disabled list next Thursday, although there is no timetable for his return. Matheny said he has been going through an intensive running program with trainers.
"I think he's just gong to get kind of ramped up every day," Matheny said. "It looks like he's answering every question we're giving him."
Matheny also said Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, who each exited the past two games early with injuries, are recovering as expected. Martinez's right hand cramping was simply the result of dehydration, which was likely thrown off with his unusual travel schedule, Matheny said. Triple-A Memphis had just arrived in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday night when Martinez and reliever Sam Freeman were called back to St. Louis.
"Gotta be pretty intentional about staying hydrated around here," Matheny said. "It hasn't been that hot, but the humidity still takes it from you."
Miller is likely to start early next week, but the Cardinals haven't announced plans for the rotation beyond Tuesday.
• With Carlos Beltran getting the night off, David Freese was in the lineup batting second Friday for just the 14th game of his career. Freese has hit .267 (12-for-45) in 13 games from the two-hole with three RBIs, three walks and seven strikeouts.
• Shane Robinson begins a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield this weekend as the club hosts Midland for a three-game series. Robinson (right shoulder strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list next Thursday.
• The Cardinals are teaming up with St. Louis Coca-Cola and Shop 'n' Save to host a baseball-themed active lifestyle clinic Saturday for about 50 athletes from the Missouri and Illinois Special Olympics chapters. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will be in attendance for the event and will toss out the ceremonial first pitch.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.