Wacha looks to keep mixing his pitches well against Padres

Michael Wacha is coming off a strong outing against the Giants.
AP

SAN DIEGO — The St. Louis Cardinals, winners of four of their past five games, will try to make it five of their last six Tuesday night behind Michael Wacha in the second game of a four-game series at San Diego.

Wacha (10-7, 4.20 ERA) is coming off a win at San Francisco last Thursday. That victory was his first since Aug. 8, snapping a three-start losing streak.

In San Francisco, the right-hander gave up one run and four hits and walked two while striking out two over six innings.

“He did a better job of mixing all his pitches,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. “I think his fastball is better, and we’ve talked about it being in the bottom of the zone so much, people are tired of me talking about it. …

“(A key was) mixing in his curveball. His curveball was a better pitch for him; he hadn’t used it that much before. And that just makes that fastball better.”

Wacha is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts against the Padres, but this will be his first start against San Diego this season.

“His changeup isn’t a secret,” Matheny said. “I think early in his career he could get by with two pitches because both of them were kind of different. It was a different changeup and he had a high-angle fastball that guys, sooner or later, they adjusted. Now with the curveball, you have so many weapons that it keeps guys off balance.

“He’s throwing it for strikes, and I’ve seen him strike guys out when they are sitting fastball or change. The curveball is sharp, it’s got some bite. And he’s got confidence now in throwing it.”

The Cardinals beat the Padres 2-0 in the series opener Monday, leaving them five games behind the Chicago Cubs in the division and three games back of the Colorado Rockies for the second NL wild card.

Perhaps the Padres were still enjoying the aftermath of taking three of four from the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. But Padres manager Andy Green said his team’s only concern is what it is about to do instead of living in the past.

“We put that behind us,” Green said of the thrilling Dodgers series. “Our only concern is the Cardinals.”

The Padres will throw left-hander Travis Wood (3-4, 5.47 ERA) at the Cardinals. Wood is 6-6 with a 5.37 ERA in 31 appearances (including 18 starts) in his career versus the Cardinals, but he has not faced them this year.

Wood went 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his last outing against the Giants, allowing six hits and four walks Wednesday. Wood also homered in the game.

“He competed; he’s not afraid,” Green said. “Some days he’s out there where, honestly, he is short on stuff. But his competitive factor gets him through a lot of games.”

Green isn’t expecting Wood, a reliever earlier in the year with the Kansas City Royals, to have extended outings.

“It’s Travis’ ability to get through as many innings as he possibly can and get the ball to the bullpen,” Green said. “I don’t think he is in the position right now to where we are looking for seven, eight or nine innings. If he gives us five strong innings, it is going to give us a chance to win a baseball game. And he’s done that on a pretty consistent basis since he has been here.”