As the Phillies continue to try and prove they have turned a corner, they will catch a break on Sunday when Michael Wacha skips his scheduled start for the Cardinals.
Instead, St. Louis will send Carlos Martinez to the mound at Busch Stadium for the series finale. The Cards opted to have the 22-year-old Wacha skip his start to give him a breather and save him some innings as they monitor his workload.
Martinez made a spot start for Adam Wainwright on Monday after pitching out of the bullpen all season, and the right-hander limited the Mets to an unearned run on two hits. The Cardinals weren't going to stretch him past 60 pitches, and Martinez ended up finishing four innings on 59. He will be granted a longer leash -- likely in the 75-80 pitch range -- on Sunday.
Said Wacha of missing the start: "There have definitely been times over the last couple starts where I was maybe getting a little bit tired. But obviously, I want to be out there every fifth day. But we have Carlos in a situation where he's able to fill in, he's already stretched out a little bit. I guess it's that time to do it."
Meanwhile, for the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick is hoping he has turned a corner of his own.
Kendrick has allowed 15 runs in the first inning in his 13 starts this season, including at least a run in seven of the last eight, but he halted that trend with a scoreless first frame on Tuesday in a win over Atlanta at Turner Field.
"I changed up some things," Kendrick said on Tuesday. "I just warmed up a little earlier. I sat down for about 10-15 minutes and warmed up again. It could have been the weather. I always enjoy pitching [at Turner Field]. I was pretty loose early."
In the first three games of the series, Philly starters allowed just five runs in 24 innings.
Cardinals: Offense hoping for resurgence on upcoming road trip
Sunday's game will close a 10-game homestand for the Cardinals, the team's longest homestand of the season. The Cards opened it with five straight wins but have dropped three of their last four. After St. Louis wraps up the homestand on Sunday, it will embark on a 10-game, 11-day road trip against three Western clubs.
To this point, the Cardinals haven't gained any ground on the first-place Brewers during the homestand. They were 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee coming into it and will be 5 1/2 games out entering Sunday's game.
"We're scratching and clawing to figure out how something is going to work," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the team's recently quiet offense.
"It's frustrating for the guys, frustrating for all of us when we know it's there," Matheny said. "When you see it, you just tend to expect it, and that's where we are right now. We're going to continue to expect it because it's there and we just have to continue to fight to get it back."
Phillies: Winning streak has Phils back in division race
The Phillies are on a hot streak, having won nine of their last 12. The stretch has moved them within five games of .500 and within four games of first place even despite early season struggles.
"We know where we're at," Kendrick said. "Shoot, we're still in it."
"You give props to these guys in here," A.J. Burnett said. "We've hit when we haven't pitched, we've pitched when we haven't hit. Guys never got down, guys never quit, they just kept doing their work. Not hoping, but knowing when we did click, it's going to be fun.
"I think that's what we're starting to see. Everything's clicking at the same time."
• The Cardinals will likely have center fielder Jon Jay back in the lineup on Sunday. He sat on Saturday primarily for matchup reasons, as Matheny went with a right-handed heavy lineup against the lefty Cole Hamels.
• Jimmy Rollins has a 15-game hitting streak, and has exactly one hit in each of those 15 games.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.