MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that his confidence has not wavered with Wednesday starter Jake Westbrook, but his concern is high with his right-handed pitcher.
"No, but obviously everybody has concern when we see that he's going through things that feel right, he's going about his business the right way, and he continues to struggle," Matheny said. "We're not so optimistic that we're oblivious."
Westbrook has endured a tough August, posting an 0-3 record and 11.02 ERA in three starts. In his last four starts -- all losses -- Westbrook's ERA has ballooned from 2.95 to 4.35.
Westbrook noted that controlling his sinker is key, and his 18th start of the season in Wednesday's finale against Milwaukee will be about getting back to the basics.
"It's all about being consistent and throwing strikes," he said. "It's one of those things that I have to put myself in a better position to succeed. I put myself in a bad situation by not attacking guys. I was trying to attack guys, but I was so erratic with it and not controlling counts. That's what I have to get back to is controlling counts and getting back in the zone."
Westbrook has walked 15 batters in his past four starts after allowing five free passes in two separate games -- the most since he walked six in his first start of the season.
But Matheny said it's not all about control.
"It's just quality pitches right from the get-go," Matheny said. "The guy is such a pro, and he's going through a thousand different things in his mind of what he can do differently. He's constantly looking to make those adjustments. The things that we know he takes a lot of pride in -- those quick innings and … pitching to contact and not walking guys -- all those things are what Jake Westbrook epitomizes more than anybody else on our staff.
"He really does something that he's had to do on a consistent basis to have the kind of career that he's had. It's just, he's struggling getting it done right now."
Matheny put some of the blame on himself, but said Wednesday's start against the Brewers could be a turning point for Westbrook.
"Possibly me giving him extra rest backfired," Matheny said. "Now we've got him on regular rest. You know, that sinker is such a feel, and we need him to get out there with a good feel for it right from the beginning. I anticipate we're going to have a much different Jake Westbrook than the last couple times he's gone out."
Wong feels relaxed after first career hits, stolen bases
MILWAUKEE -- After Kolten Wong legged out a sixth-inning grounder for his first Major League hit Monday, he was finally able to exhale.
"Once that first hit got out of the way, I kind of ran past first base and I just kind of looked up and took a deep breath and realized that it's done with," Wong said. "Now let's play baseball."
It did not take long for the 22-year-old second baseman to notch his second hit, another infield single in the eighth that started a game-winning, four-run rally in the Cardinals' 8-5 win against the Brewers at Miller Park. He finished Monday 2-for-5 with two stolen bases, and batted second Tuesday, producing another big day with three hits and a stolen base in the Cardinals' 6-3 loss.
Wong was promoted to the big leagues for last weekend's series against the Cubs and has started four of five games at second base since his callup.
"He's got a nice approach at the plate," manager Mike Matheny said. "Real short swing, real quick hands. He's learning. [Monday] he had the one at-bat, the only time he looked like he wasn't comfortable. They've tried making similar pitches to that since, and he's made the adjustment. It's pretty impressive."
Wong became the first player to record two hits and two stolen bases in one of his first four MLB games since the D-backs' Trent Oeltjen did it in his Major League debut at Pittsburgh on Aug. 6, 2009. Four other modern-era players have done this in a Cardinals uniform: She Donahue (in his first game in 1904), Joe Delahanty (first game in '07), Vince Coleman (fourth game in '85), and John Morris (second game in '86).
Wong was just happy to get a good night's rest Monday night.
"I was able to sleep last night, that's for sure," he said. "I finally got that out of the way."
Matheny likes what the Cardinals' fourth-ranked prospect brings to the big league lineup.
"He brings a speed element," Matheny said. "He brings just a lot of energy and excitement. That's what a young player's supposed to do. We talked about that with some of the other young guys that have come up here. They've got a lot to prove, and want to show what they can do and contribute.
"They understand that we're pushing to win here. This isn't about exposing the young guys to this league, it's about winning and getting them involved here and getting them an opportunity. It's great for our club, great for the individual."
Wong said he received the ball he hit into the hole at shortstop for his first hit after the game and will give it to his parents.
"I think now I'm a little more relaxed, but I'm still new to this -- the big leagues -- so I'm excited to get out there and play," he said.
Matheny shuffles lineup in advance of matinee finale
MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny shuffled his lineup Tuesday, sitting regulars Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig with Wednesday's matinee finale against the Brewers looming.
"Some guys that look like they could use a day," Matheny said. "Every one of them said the exact same thing: They want to keep playing. That's exactly what you want to hear. But when it doesn't look right, you know that physically there are some things they're trying to fight through, too. You're just trying to find days."
Matheny said Tuesday was a good option before Wednesday's 1 p.m. CT game.
Daniel Descalso, Matt Adams and David Freese all contributed key pinch-hits in the Cardinals' four-run eighth inning of Monday's 8-5 win, and all were in Tuesday's lineup.
"It is a balance, but I also have a lot of faith in the guys that we have," Matheny said. "You look at our lineup, and that's a legit lineup, and we have two of our everyday guys out. As we go down this stretch, we're going to need everybody. We saw that yesterday. If we just put guys completely on the shelf and don't give them opportunities, we can't expect to come through in situations like last night."
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.