Wainwright returns from DL as Cardinals go for series win at San Diego

SAN DIEGO — The Cardinals are calling Adam Wainwright off the disabled list Sunday in a bid to win a third contest in a four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park.

Wainwright has been on the disabled list since April 20 with inflammation in his right elbow. He made a rehab start Monday with Double-A Springfield and threw a bullpen session Thursday in San Diego.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Saturday that the Cardinals would proceed cautiously with Wainwright. But he was also optimistic that some tweaks to Wainwright’s delivery could be beneficial in reducing the strain on the elbow that was surgically cleaned up last fall.

“Adam’s been working on some things to try and make it feel right and work right,” Matheny said of Wainwright’s elbow. “We’ve had good reports with what we saw with him at Springfield. He was moving the ball around, keeping guys off balance and locating the ball where he wanted to.

“I think he’s as adaptable as he is a fierce competitor. We just had to take time so we could make sure he was ready to go. Especially when you have the disabled list you are talking about. If it wasn’t right and you try to go to him and you could be starting that all over again. That just doesn’t make sense. So we need to be patient.”

Wainwright was 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA when he went on the disabled list after only three starts. He had pitched only 15 2/3 innings in those three starts, allowing seven runs (six earned) on 16 hits and eight walks with 12 strikeouts. Opposing hitters were batting .267 against Wainwright.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound right-hander has always had success against the Padres, although he hasn’t faced San Diego since the 2016 season.

In his career against the Padres, Wainwright is 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA and a .238 opponents’ batting average. He has gone 74 innings against the Padres in 13 games (10 starts), allowing 65 hits and 14 walks for a 1.07 WHIP. His ERA against the Padres is the second lowest among active starters to Clayton Kershaw’s 1.94.

But not all of Wainwright’s numbers against the Padres are positive. He is only 1-3 against the Padres at Petco Park, where he has a 2.63 ERA. And he hasn’t recorded a win against the Padres since Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Louis.

Wainwright will be opposed by Padres left-hander Clayton Richard.

Richard is 1-5 this season with a 5.72 ERA and has lost four straight decisions. The Padres are 2-6 in Richard’s eight starts.

But Richard has pitched better outside of the National League West. He held the Washington Nationals to three runs on seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts over eight innings Tuesday — his longest outing the of the season and his best performance since Opening Day.

Richard is 4-0 with a 3.02 ERA in seven career starts against the Cardinals. He is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his three starts against the Cardinals at Petco Park.