The Padres suffered a three-game sweep at the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend to drop to nine games under .500 and eight games out of the final wild-card spot in the National League.
"There's 30 games left," Padres manager Bob Melvin said after his team fell to the Brewers 10-6 Sunday. "There's really no reason to even look at the standings at this point in time. Let's just keep playing, keep playing, hope something breaks that we haven't been able to do the entire season."
Blake Snell (10-9, 2.73 ERA) will start against the Cardinals in the series opener Monday at Busch Stadium.
Snell delivered his third straight quality start on Aug. 22, but he took the 3-0 loss to the Miami Marlins. He allowed three runs on six hits in six innings while striking out eight batters and walking two.
"It hurts losing to them, especially when I know that we have the team to beat them — to beat every team we play," Snell said. "You just want to win, get to the playoffs, feel that feeling again. There's nothing like the playoffs. So, hopefully, we can get it going, start winning and give this city what they deserve — a playoff team."
Snell is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals returned home after losing five of six games in Pennsylvania. They were outscored 22-3 as the Philadelphia Phillies swept them over the weekend, which followed losing two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"We understand where we're at," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after his team lost 3-0 Sunday. "We had a pretty good understanding after the trade deadline what this was going to look like. They're competing like crazy, but we're giving young guys an opportunity to show what they're capable of doing."
Given their rotation depletion through injuries and sell-off trades, the Cardinals keep giving Adam Wainwright (3-9, 8.61) additional starts despite his season-long struggles.
Wainwright didn't survive the fifth inning in his most recent start, a 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Aug. 22. After allowing just one run in his first four innings, he allowed five runs after retiring two batters in the fifth inning.
"Could have easily been a zero there, but that's the way my season has gone," Wainwright said. "Unfortunately, the whole year — the crooked number, the big innings, really hurt me. Two-out runs against. Six of them. Could have easily been, should have been a zero in the fifth. Wasn't. That's on me."
Wainwright has been stuck on 198 career victories since June 17. He will try once again in a tough matchup against the Padres and Snell.
"It's proving to be very difficult," he said. "One hundred ninety-nine would be great first. We need to win that one first. ... I can't win 200 before I win 199. I've got to win that one first. And that starts with my next start."
Wainwright is 7-6 with a 2.73 ERA against the Padres in 19 career appearances, including 16 starts.
Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar is nearing his return from a lower abdomen contusion. He has been sidelined since Aug. 16, when he exited a game against the Oakland Athletics after he fouled off a pitch into his groin area.
—Field Level Media