Martinez takes baton in Cards' reliable rotation

With club struggling to score runs, starters compensating with MLB-best ERA

Martinez takes baton in Cards' reliable rotation

ST. LOUIS -- No run support, no problem. That has been the mantra this week for the Cardinals' starting pitchers, who have improved on their already gaudy numbers during a stretch of offensive weakness that continued in a 2-1 win over the Padres at Busch Stadium on Saturday.

The Cardinals have scored eight runs over their last five games, tying a season-worst stretch of offensive production for a five-game span, but their starting pitchers posted a 1.93 ERA during those games, which included a spot-start from Tim Cooney in place of the injured Jaime Garcia.

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"There's a bunch of guys on a team that don't like giving up runs, and it's been proven over the last few games where our offense hasn't been what it was early on in the season," said Michael Wacha, who gave up one run in seven innings on Friday.

Wacha also issued a statement of confidence in the resiliency of the team's bats, but until the runs start coming, a sense of responsibility to compensate for the zeros posted by the Cardinals' offense is driving the starters to maintain -- and even lower -- their MLB-best ERA, which is at 2.83.

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Lack of run support may have even given Carlos Martinez a boost in his 6 2/3 innings during Saturday's game.

"That helps me, because if the offense is not in it, I've got to put in more effort," Martinez said through an interpreter. "Every time I pitch and we don't score runs, I say, 'OK, they're not going to score, either.'"

The righty allowed one run in his ninth straight quality start and praised the unity of a starting staff that continues to impress, despite the early-season loss of its premier piece, Adam Wainwright.

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"It's good, because everyone is kind of together," Martinez said. "The last couple of games, the offense has been a little down, but that's something that everybody will be together to battle all the way through."

Martinez aggressively pushed himself trying to turn a groundout into an infield single during the third inning. Given the offensive woes, it was understandable that he would try to get on base to help his own cause.

As if the starting pitchers aren't pulling enough weight already.

"There's going to be games like that sometimes where the offense isn't going or something like that," Wacha said. "The pitchers, we've got to keep the guys in it. That's the main mentality."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.