Cardinals’ Wacha faces Padres’ Wood

SAN DIEGO — The Padres will try to get back on the winning track against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, one day after San Diego lost the opener of the four-game series 2-0.

Just maybe the Padres were still enjoying the aftermath of taking three of four from the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. However, 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.”

St. Louis, trying to stay close in the National League Central and wild-card races, is sizzling. The Cardinals have won four of their past five games, 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.

The Cardinals will send out right-hander Michael Wacha (10-7, 4.20 ERA) on Tuesday.

In his most recent start, Wacha got back on track. When he defeated the Giants on Thursday, it was his first victory since Aug. 8, and it snapped a three-start losing streak.

In San Francisco, Wacha gave up one run, 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. “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 Padres will throw lefty Travis Wood (3-4, 5.47 ERA) at the Cardinals. In his career, Wood is 6-6 with a 5.37 ERA in 31 appearances, including 18 starts, versus St. Louis, but he has not faced the Cardinals this year.

Wood went 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his last outing against the Giants, allowing six hits and four walks on 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.”