Trailing Milwaukee by six games and second-place Chicago by five in the National League Central, the Cardinals embark Tuesday on a six-game swing to Pittsburgh and Washington.
Manager Tony La Russa said, "If we plug in a hot starting rotation, our chance to win gets serious."
Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' best starter for much of the season, will get two starts of the six on the trip, with his first coming Tuesday.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RHP Jason Isringhausen said he did not want to waive his no-trade clause and wanted to stay with the Cardinals the rest of the season. The Cardinals have an $8-million option on Isringhausen for next season.
--RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who has been on the disabled list with an elbow sprain, had to cut short a throwing session on Sunday and figures to be shelved for quite a while longer.
--RHP Anthony Reyes will get another start in Washington after scoring his first win of the season Thursday against Milwaukee.
--OF Skip Schumaker, a strong contributor off the bench, could be optioned because the Cardinals play two weeks straight without a day off, and they might opt to carry 12 pitchers instead of 11.
--LHP Mike Maroth, who hasn't won in six starts, figures to be in the bullpen for a while as Anthony Reyes takes his spot in the rotation.
BY THE NUMBERS: 34 -- Number of times in their first 55 losses the Cardinals were outscored by four or more runs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "In the position we're in, we can't afford to waste a week." -- Manager Tony La Russa on the need for the under .500 Cardinals to start stringing together some wins.