CHICAGO — Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals have hit rock bottom in their topsy-turvy season. Or at least they hope so.
Wainwright was pounded for seven runs in two innings in a 13-2 rout at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Friday. The Cardinals fell a season-high 14 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central, their largest deficit since the final month of the 2008 season.
Wainwright (9-7) allowed six hits and three walks to remain winless since July 16. The three-time All-Star is 0-2 in his last five starts, during which he allowed 21 runs in 25 2/3 innings.
"I was horrible," said Wainwright, who called the start and the season the worst of his career. "That’s all you can say — I pitched terrible. My stuff was bad, my delivery was bad, everything was bad. The team deserves more than that."
Matt Szczur hit two home runs and the Cubs won their 11th straight game, their longest streak since a 12-game run in 2001. They improved the best record in the majors to 73-41.
The outing matched the shortest for Wainwright in his career. Five days earlier, he labored through six innings and 108 pitches in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"We made him do the exact same thing the last time and throw a 100-plus pitches," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just ate (innings) for us the last time. You can’t make him do it twice."
Willson Contreras launched a three-run shot to cap a five-run second inning, and Javier Baez and Jorge Soler also went deep to make things easy for starter Jake Arrieta (14-5). Arrieta pitched one-run ball into the sixth inning and gave up four hits overall.
Szczur, who recorded his first multihomer game, and Kris Bryant had three hits each.
Stephen Piscotty and Jedd Gyorko homered for the Cardinals, who remain in a tight race for the second NL wild card despite dropping six of their last nine.
Arrieta delivered a second straight solid start in August after going 0-3 with two no-decisions and a 4.88 ERA in July. The reigning NL Cy Young winner pitched eight shutout innings at Oakland last Saturday.
The Cubs jumped on Wainwright early. Line-drive doubles by Bryant and Addison Russell drove in runs in the first to make it 2-0.
Bryant hit another RBI double in the second and Contreras sent his seventh homer halfway up into the bleachers in left-center to make it 7-0.
Szczur and Soler hit solo homers in the sixth off Jerome Williams, who was called on to pitch three innings. Szczur and Baez added two-run shots in the seventh before Gyorko connected in the eighth.
Cardinals: OF Matt Holliday had his broken right thumb examined by the team’s hand specialist in Chicago. He was replaced in left field by Brandon Moss.
Holliday will decide next week on treatments including surgery or letting the injury heal on its own, according to GM John Mozeliak. Neither Matheny nor Mozeliak could offer a specific timetable for the slugger’s return.
"It happens quite a bit, so you don’t dwell on it," Matheny said of any emotional hangover. "You’re not happy about losing any of your guys, but you don’t let it carry into the next game."
Cubs: OFs Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward didn’t start. Manager Joe Maddon said both got the day off following Thursday night’s 11-inning win. … RHP Trevor Cahill arrived at the Cubs clubhouse on Friday but has not been activated from the DL after making six starts at Triple-A Iowa in a rehab stint (right knee tendinitis).
Cardinals: Luke Weaver, a 22-year-old righty and one of the team’s top pitching prospects, will make his major league debut on Saturday against Kyle Hendricks (11-7, 2.17), who is 7-1 with a 1.06 ERA in his last 10 outings. Weaver will take Holliday’s roster spot following his recall from Triple-A Memphis.