In his last start, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright missed a chance to become the first 15-game winner in the Majors. The Reds' Johnny Cueto has since surpassed him, but Wainwright will have a second shot to reach that benchmark for the fourth time in his last five seasons on Sunday against San Diego.
Wainwright's last outing wasn't particularly bad, as he went seven innings and allowed three runs while taking the loss against Miami. But he served up a two-run homer to light-hitting Marlins infielder Donovan Solano that gave Miami's staff a solid cushion in a shutout of St. Louis.
"That ball was 10 feet foul and it came back fair. It was just the craziest ball flight I've ever seen," Wainwright said. "I think I got so caught up trying to stuff it in there that I didn't juice it like I wanted to. ... It obviously looks ridiculously stupid that I gave up a two-run homer there, but the sad thing is it probably wouldn't have mattered because their guys pitched very good and we didn't score."
Still, Wainwright hasn't been his dominant self since the All-Star break, posting a 4.65 ERA and .281 opponents' batting average in five starts.
St. Louis will try to maintain its slim lead in the National League Wild Card race against Padres starter Odrisamer Despaigne, who came five outs short of throwing the first no-hitter for the Padres on July 20 against the Mets.
Despaigne struggled in his next three starts but rebounded to hurl seven shutout innings against Colorado on Tuesday, setting a career high with eight strikeouts.
The Cuban defector has utilized a variety of arm angles and pitches -- including a slow, lofting curve that dips into the low-60s -- to fool hitters throughout his first two months in the Majors. But against the Rockies, he showed that his fastball command is good enough on its own in the big leagues.
"He doesn't have to trick people, his stuff is pretty good," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He got back to stuff instead of deception."
Cardinals: Wacha's arm "felt great" after bullpen session
Michael Wacha pitched off a mound for the first time in nearly two months on Saturday, throwing 30 pitches in a bullpen session.
Wacha has been out since June 17 with a stress reaction in his right shoulder. After several weeks of rest, he resumed throwing on flat ground this month and was recently cleared for this next step.
"Whenever you're cleared for your first 'pen, it's a big day," Wacha said. "It felt good to get back out there on the mound, the first time in a while. My arm felt great."
Wacha threw mostly fastballs, mixing in a few changeups as well. He is scheduled to have a follow-up MRI on Monday so that doctors can ensure that the shoulder is continuing to heal.
"It's a great thing to see," said manager Mike Matheny. "It's a step forward. We're not putting too much pressure on him. I know it's just another step in the process. He has to trust it and keep moving forward."
As long as everything checks out, he's expected to continue throwing off the mound every few days before throwing a simulated game or a possible rehab assignment, which would have to take place before the Minor League regular season ends on Sept. 1.
Padres: Solarte returns to lineup
Yangervis Solarte was back in the lineup Saturday after a two-game absence due to what was originally thought to be a mild left oblique strain. The injury turned out to be tightness in the lower back, an easier recovery.
"Oblique is difficult to make a swing, but I'm thinking [it's] lower back," said Solarte, who led off and played third base while going 1-for-5 with a double. "I'm feeling good."
Solarte suffered the injury on Wednesday while making an errant throw on the run, and his soreness continued to affect his throwing ability over the next couple of days.
But he took swings without issue, and massaging around the area by trainers allowed him to be medically cleared.
• Padres rookie outfielder Rymer Liriano has reached base or collected an RBI in each of his first six Major League games.
• Cardinals rookie Oscar Taveras started Saturday in right field after sitting on the bench for two days. He delivered an RBI double in his first at-bat, and ended up going 2-for-4.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.