As starter Adam Wainwright attempts to complete a string of Cardinals starters reaching the seventh inning in a cycle of the rotation, D-backs starter Bronson Arroyo's recent stretch suggests a pitchers' duel could be looming.
Arroyo has found success in May, tossing three quality starts, including a one-run complete game the last time out against Washington. For St. Louis, it has watched its last four starters complete seven innings, winning every game but Sunday, in which it lost the lead in the ninth against the Braves.
If Cardinals manager Mike Matheny get his wish, that stretch of success will continue when St. Louis and Arizona open a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
"It's healthy competition," Matheny said. "You see one starter trying to up the next one. That's what makes a staff good and what separates them from everybody else and makes them great, in my opinion."
Wainwright lasted six innings and surrendered two runs in his last outing against the Cubs. Since then, the Cardinals have had three quality starts along with a seven-inning, four-run performance Sunday in Jaime Garcia's return.
Wainwright has tossed at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs in six of his nine starts this season.
"It means so much to our starters to be able to go and hit that seventh inning and be able to finish it," Matheny said. "I've been really impressed by how they're pushing there."
Arroyo has done the same for Arizona during May after not reaching the seventh inning in five April starts. In his last four starts, the 37-year-old has gone 3-0 while throwing 29 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs for a 0.91 ERA.
"It's a lot of fun to watch," D-backs pitcher Josh Collmenter said after Arroyo's last start. "When he's healthy and he's right, he pitches around the zone and just misses barrels. So you see a lot of bad swings or guys not getting a whole lot of bat on the ball."
Arizona will arrive in St. Louis on a two-game winning streak in which it combined for 23 runs against the Dodgers. The D-backs are 12-10 on the road this season compared to a 6-18 mark at home.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, will be seeking to rebound after coming within one pitch of a five-game winning streak Sunday at Busch Stadium, which would have been its longest this season.
"It'd have been a big win, no question," Matheny said. "To have [a lead], even though it was a slim one, to have a lead in the ninth there, a tough one to lose."
D-backs: Hill could see return to Arizona lineup
D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill was scratched from the lineup Saturday with a sore shoulder and didn't play in Arizona's series finale against the Dodgers on Sunday.
With an off-day Monday giving Hill three days of rest, he could return to the lineup Tuesday in St. Louis. Hill is hitting .269 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.
Arizona has started Cliff Pennington in place of Hill in the last two games. He went 2-for-5 with two RBIs on Saturday before going 0-for-4 on Sunday.
Cardinals: Motte hopeful for Tuesday return to bullpen
For Jason Motte, the light at the end of the tunnel may be set on Tuesday, when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the D-backs.
Motte, who missed all of last season and the first part of this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, was set to throw a bullpen session prior to Sunday's series finale against the Braves with the hope to be activated from the disabled list after Monday's off-day.
"It's been 13, 14 months since the initial thing, at the end of March in the spring of last year," Motte said. "You can actually see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel now."
Motte has made six rehab appearances -- four in Double-A, two in Triple-A -- combining for 6 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
• Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal was down to the final strike while attempting to save his fourth game in as many days Sunday when he walked a batter for his second blown save of the season. The eventual loss for the Cardinals moved them to 22-1 when leading after eight innings this season.
• Arizona has won three of its last five games played at Busch Stadium.
• In his first three games back from Triple-A, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong has found success. The 23-year old is a combined 5-for-11 with three runs and three RBIs while hitting in the No. 2 spot.
• For Arroyo, the Cardinals are a familiar foe. The right-hander has faced St. Louis 38 times in his career, 36 of them starts. He has 19 career quality starts against the Cardinals.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.