The St. Louis Cardinals will continue their search for better starting pitching Friday when Dakota Hudson faces the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee won the opener of the four-game series 4-3 on Thursday for its sixth victory in eight games. St. Louis fell for the second game in a row aftera four-game winning streak.
For the seventh time in nine games, the Cardinals saw their starting pitcher fail to work more than five innings.
That puts extra focus on Hudson (3-2, 3.60 ERA), who has worked a total of 14 1/3 innings in his past three starts. Hudson allowed seven runs on 15 hits while walking eight and striking out just four during that span.
With starting pitchers Jack Flaherty (shoulder), Steven Matz (shoulder), Jordan Hicks (forearm) and Alex Reyes (shoulder) sidelined, the Cardinals are hoping Hudson can re-establish himself as an innings-eater.
St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol wants Hudson, who was 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 2019, to pick up his pitching pace as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
"It's just a matter of get the ball and get back on the mound -- let's get going," Marmol said. "There's a pace to it and an aggressiveness to it, to keep the infield and outfield engaged, and I need to see more of that."
Hudson lost his most recent meeting with the Brewers on April 17 when he allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks in three-plus innings. He is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA against Milwaukee in seven career appearances, including four starts.
The Brewers will counter with Brandon Woodruff (5-2, 4.76 ERA). The right-hander has won his past two starts while allowing four runs (two earned) on 10 hits in 11 innings. He struck out 12 and walked two in that span.
"I feel like I'm moving the way I should be and in turn that helps pick up the command a little bit," Woodruff said. "Just trying to make pitches. That's all I'm trying to do."
In his previous outing against the Cardinals this season, Woodruff threw five scoreless innings in a 5-1 Milwaukee victory on April 14. He allowed just three hits and a walk while fanning two.
Woodruff is 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA against the Cardinals in 11 career appearances, including nine starts.
As expected, the Cardinals got catcher Yadier Molina back from the bereavement list for the start of the series. He had returned to Puerto Rico to be with son, who is recovering after surgery from a baseball injury.
Molina went 0-for-2 with two walks on Thursday.
For the Brewers, closer Josh Hader returned from family medical emergency list on Thursday and recorded his 16th save in 16 tries. The left-hander had missed three games due to his wife's pregnancy complications.
Hader pitched a scoreless ninth inning, escaping a two-on, one-out jam.
"The guy's not scared, man," Brewers outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen told Bally Sports Wisconsin. "We know that. He goes out there, he trusts his stuff, he gets the job done. Even with taking the time that he did, personal reasons, he was able to come back and get right back in the middle of it. Just did it like he never left.
"We're happy to have him back. He's fun to watch."
--Field Level Media