While Cubs rookie Kyle Hendricks continues to find his way in the Majors just two starts into his big league career, Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright knows well that the learning never ends.
In his first second-half appearance after starting the All-Star Game for the National League, Wainwright watched the fifth inning unravel against the Rays, surrendering five of his six runs (four earned), and exiting with two outs in the frame.
"It's hard to explain when weird things like that happen," Wainwright said afterward. "But I know that this game is incredibly frustrating sometimes and probably for the fans, too, tonight watching and wondering what in the world I was doing out there. Every now and then, you just have a crazy inning like that."
Entering that start, Wainwright had put forth seven consecutive quality starts while allowing no more than two runs in any of them. Overall, the right-hander has lasted at least six innings and allowed two runs or fewer in 16 of 20 starts.
"I think that's just part of the process of humbling that this game can do," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "Whenever you think you've got it completely figured out, it'll reach up and grab you."
His main trouble has come against the rival Cubs. In three starts against the Cubs this season, Wainwright has allowed 12 runs in 18 innings (6.00 ERA).
After the Cardinals snapped their season-high four-game losing streak on Saturday, they will face off against Hendricks, who earned his first Major League victory in his last trip to the mound. In that outing, which marked his first at Wrigley Field, Hendricks tossed seven scoreless innings.
"From the start, I just pounded the strike zone here," Hendricks said. "I did have one walk in the first inning, but it wasn't a bad walk. I knew my sinker was working and I just tried to pound the strike zone."
Cardinals: Pierzynski provides jolt for Cards' offense
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski wasted no time getting acclimated to his new team Saturday, collecting three hits in his Cardinals debut shortly after joining the team in Chicago.
With All-Star catcher Yadier Molina out for 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his right thumb in mid-July, the Cardinals added Pierzynski on Saturday to add depth behind the dish. The veteran catcher, now with his sixth team, is ready to do whatever the team needs.
"I talked to Mike [Matheny on Friday]," Pierzynski said. "We just talked. I just said: 'Whatever you need me to do. If you need me to catch once a week, seven days a week -- whatever you need me to do. If you need me to come off the bench, if you need me to play the outfield, if you need me to pitch, whatever you need me to do, I'll do it. Just let me know.' He was very forthcoming about it."
Cubs: Ramirez optioned, Parker recalled from Triple-A
The Cubs chose to option Neil Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa and recall Blake Parker on Saturday, sensing Ramirez could use a breather.
Ramirez won't report immediately to Iowa, and instead will take some days off, then ease back into the workload. The 25-year-old righty may not be the only reliever who gets a break, as manager Rick Renteria said the Cubs are keeping an eye on Brian Schlitter and Justin Grimm, as well.
"We've been using everybody extensively," Renteria said. "We've had conversations within the organization since Spring Training about a lot of our arms. We've used them a lot and we want to have the ability to give them a break during the course of the season."
The expectation is that Ramirez will be back after 10 days, Renteria said.
Parker, 29, has 21 saves with a 1.29 ERA in 28 games for Iowa this season. This is his fourth stint with the Cubs this season. He pitched a perfect eighth and ninth with four strikeouts on Saturday.
• In 17 career games at Wrigley Field (12 starts), Wainwright is 6-1 with a 4.16 ERA.
• After going 1-for-3 on Saturday, Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney is hitting .444 (8-for-18) against the Cardinals this season with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.