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Starters' fall to earth leads to losing streak

The Cardinals strong starting pitching was its strength in the first month of the season, leading the Birds to the best record in the NL at one point.

But it's potent bats haven't been able to overcome the recently slumping starters. And the Cardinals have a losing streak on their hands for the first time this season with the thorn in their sides the last year plus, the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates, coming to town tonight.

Adam Wainwright's struggles have persisted for more than a month and they are beginning to become a concern. He has struggled to control his curveball. And it seems like he doesn't trust his other pitches. He nibbles until he gets behind and then is forced to throw fastballs for strikes at obvious times.

Wainwright is at his best when he is aggressive and attacking hitters. When he has that curve going, batters find it difficult to adjust their swings and he can eat them up.

The problems Wainwright -- who is the ace by default since Chris Carpenter went down with a rib cage injury about a month ago -- is suffering have been magnified by the recent struggles of Kyle Lohse. Ineffective since he twisted his knee on a play at first base two starts ago, Lohse puts a question mark behind each of the top three starters names.

The Cardinals need to get their pitching troubles turned around fast, or all that progress they made in April is going to evaporate.