Padres rookie right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne opened his career with five starts of six or more innings with two or fewer runs, though that streak ended his last time out as he had his first subpar outing in the big leagues.
He'll look to get back on track Thursday afternoon at Petco Park as San Diego tries for a three-game sweep of the Cardinals.
Despaigne (2-2, 1.66 ERA) failed to get out of the fourth inning in his last outing, and the Padres fell, 5-3, to the Braves. His start went south when he fielded a chopper back to the mound and tried to nail a runner advancing from second to third. Instead he committed an error on the throw, which ultimately extended the frame.
Despaigne's five walks didn't help.
"It looked as though he was trying to be a little too fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He just couldn't throw a first-pitch strike."
Still, the Cuban defector's multiple arm angles, variety of offerings and varying velocities have mostly vexed teams.
"He's never going to show you the same pitch. It's either going to be a different slot [or] a different speed," said catcher Yasmani Grandal. "He's not going to be the guy who consistently throws 92, 93. He's gonna throw 87, 90, 91, and when he needs to bump it up, he'll bump it up. That's what he does."
On Thursday, St. Louis will answer with right-hander Shelby Miller (7-8, 4.20 ERA), who'll be making just his second start since the club briefly moved him to the bullpen so it could limit the 23-year-old's innings count.
Miller was decent in his last outing, allowing two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings, but he had to settle for a no-decision in the Cardinals' 6-3 win over the Cubs.
Padres: Cashner could rehab next week
Andrew Cashner threw his second bullpen session this week on Wednesday at Petco Park, and the right-hander could be ready for a rehab assignment by next week.
"He feels good -- he turned a number of pitches loose at the end," Black said. "I expect by sometime next week when we're on this road trip he might be pitching somewhere in our Minor League system."
Black said Cashner mostly threw fastballs and changeups but also mixed in some sliders, which had previously been blamed for elbow soreness that sent Cashner to the DL in May. He returned for three starts in June and was then sidelined again because of his right shoulder, which has bothered him intermittently throughout his professional career.
When Cashner (2-6) has been available this season, he's flashed the potential to be an ace for San Diego, recording a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts with 59 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings.
Cardinals: Uncertainty for Martinez
Right-hander Carlos Martinez was among the ptichers roughed up in a 12-1 loss to the Padres on Wednesday night, allowing two runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Martinez began the season as the club's setup man before having a stint in the starting rotation. He was moved back to the bullpen recently when Miller moved back to a starting role, and the club on Wednesday traded for another starter, Justin Masterson.
What's next for Martinez?
"I think we're just going to have to wait and see," said manager Mike Matheny. "I know he's out here working. I was watching him throw a throw a flat-ground bullpen [on Tuesday]. I know he wants to compete, too. We'll just have to keep watching."
Matheny added that Martinez might serve in a long-relief role or in late-inning situations.
"It's nice having a guy like that ready to go," he added. "We're not opposed to throwing him in shorter situations. The game just has to dictate that."
• After they wrap up a six-game road trip Thursday, the Cardinals will begin a six-game homestand on Friday, opening with a critical three-game series against the Brewers.
• A win Thursday would give the Padres their first series sweep since they took three straight from the Reds on June 30-July 2.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.