ST. LOUIS — Bullpen and hitting deficiencies didn't prevent the St. Louis Cardinals from recording their sixth consecutive winning April.
The Cardinals closed the month with a 2-1 victory over Cincinnati on Tuesday that gave them a 15-11 record. They opened May with a 4-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday.
"We look over what we've been able to do, and you would be foolish not to learn from it," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose starters have posted the lowest ERA (2.15) in any month since 1968. "I think we've learned a lot of things. There's areas that everybody wants to improve. We've got to continue to try and push in those directions.
"But it's a long season. If they keep going about it the right way, the numbers are going to start shifting in the right direction as far as offensive production. The starters, we want them to keep doing what they're doing. We're going to get this bullpen thing figured out."
Relievers logged a 5.67 ERA in April, allowing 80 hits and 10 homers in 66 2/3 innings. Fourteen of 43 inherited runners have scored, and there were six blown saves in 13 opportunities.
The encouraging news in the bullpen has been the emergence of Edward Mujica as the closer. Mujica, who turns 29 on May 10, recorded five saves in five chances in the absence of Jason Motte and the ineffectiveness in the role of Mitchell Boggs.
"Edward has a very, very good changeup that's working for him now, but he's also able to throw his fastball for strikes and locate with it and control counts," Matheny said. "He's got a good disposition on the mound and is able to execute pitches in tight situations.
"(The changeup) is a great pitch. I think it's the most underrated pitch in baseball. Guys that master that pitch, it's a very effective pitch. It's one that you see hurting your arm less."
The Cardinals haven't endured a losing April since 2007 when they were 10-14. Their last back-to-back losing Aprils came in 1996 and 1997 --Tony La Russa's first two seasons as manager.
For Matheny, it's all about living in the moment.
"It's about today for me," he said. "I really want these guys buying into that and controlling what we can control."
Adams to rehab
Slugging first baseman Matt Adams will begin a four-game rehab assignment Thursday.
Adams, recovering from a strained right oblique, will play two games at Class AA Springfield and two more at Class AAA Memphis before rejoining the Cardinals on Tuesday in Chicago.
Rookie infielder Jermaine Curtis is expected to be optioned to Memphis to make room for Adams, who is batting .542 (13-for-24) with three home runs and eight RBIs in eight games.
On to Milwaukee
St. Louis begins a four-game series in Milwaukee at 7:10 p.m. Thursday when Jake Westbrook (1-0, 0.98 ERA) pitches against Wily Peralta (2-1, 5.02 ERA).
The other pitching matchups are: Shelby Miller (3-2, 2.05 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (1-2, 2.53 ERA), 7:10 p.m. Friday; Adam Wainwright (4-2, 2.03 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 4.25 ERA), 3:05 p.m. Saturday; and Jaime Garcia (3-1, 2.50 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-1, 4.58 ERA), 1:10 p.m. Sunday.
Lance Lynn, who improved to 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA in the win Wednesday, said the starters are being challenged by each other.
"You've got guys like Adam and Jake, who are throwing the ball great. Jaime's throwing the ball great and you've got Shelby, who when he's on is pretty much unhittable," Lynn said. "You can easily say we're all feeding off each other. That's what you've got to do. You've got to challenge each other every day, and we do that."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.