NEW YORK -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is still learning how to guide Jhonny Peralta through the ups and downs of the season, and Thursday afternoon's game against the Mets stood to be another lesson.
After another frustrating night at the plate and in the field Wednesday, Peralta was not in the lineup for the final game of the Cardinals' four-game set at Citi Field. The veteran shortstop, who signed a four-year deal with St. Louis this offseason, is mired in an 0-for-21 slump dating back to April 17 in Washington. Entering Thursday, he was hitting just .151 this April.
"He's frustrated, like I or anybody else would be when he continues to press and try to impress," Matheny said. "He's still a new guy in a new town and a new team, and he wants to show what he can do."
In Wednesday night's 3-2 loss, Peralta came to the plate with his team facing a two-run deficit in the top of the eighth with runners on second and third, but he popped out to second base for the second out and the Cardinals came away empty in the inning. That at-bat capped off an 0-for-4 night for Peralta, who was brought in this winter to address the offensive struggles of St. Louis shortstops in 2013.
"It's been there for a long time, for many years, and it's going to be there again, but right now, he seems to keep coming up there in those big situations," Matheny said. "And he's going about the mentality of the thought process the right way, but physically and in application he's struggling to get it done, and that's frustrating for him. Days like this are an opportunity to give him a day to get in and get as many swings as he wants in the cage right now."
Daniel Descalso got the start in Peralta's place on Thursday, fresh off a pinch-hit RBI double in the ninth inning that gave the Cardinals life against Mets closer Kyle Farnsworth. The Cardinals' larger issue is smoothing out Peralta's early issues as the rest of the offense continues to slowly knock the rust off.
"He's going to have a great year, I know it, and this is just going to be one of those bumps that he's going to have to just trust himself through, just like our young guys," Matheny said. "The difference is, Jhonny's probably been here before, we just haven't witnessed it firsthand."
Wainwright gets go-ahead to start Pirates finale
NEW YORK -- St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, who departed his last start in New York with a right knee tweak diagnosed as hyperextension, passed a side session and got the thumbs up to take his regular turn in Sunday's series finale against the Pirates.
Wainwright has an ongoing streak of 17 scoreless innings.
"When you look at the way I pitch, you barely do anything stiff-legged, so I'm going to be OK," said Wainwright, who still acknowledged a little discomfort, but only when the leg is fully extended.
Wainwright injured his right knee lunging for a bloop by Chris Young that landed between the pitcher's mound and first base Tuesday. Young's out, recorded by first baseman Matt Adams while Wainwright hobbled past the bag, ended both the seventh inning and Wainwright's night. Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal finished the Cardinals' 2-0 win.
Cruz, Lynn developing nice rapport
NEW YORK -- Catcher Tony Cruz has found a measure of rapport with Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, and he received the start behind the plate for Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Mets as a result.
Backing up the consistent Yadier Molina can make for light work for a reserve backstop, but Cruz has found a temporary niche working Lynn's past two outings. Lynn entered Thursday 4-0 with a 3.42 ERA and has tallied 16 strikeouts with just one earned run in his last 12 2/3 innings working with Cruz.
"Tony's done a nice job," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think there's a sense of comfort, too, when you've had some success. They've really been working well together, on the same page, had a good tempo going. The added bonus is being able to give [Molina] a day, especially after a night game."
For his part, Cruz has produced at the plate in his limited opportunities, going 4-for-8 with two RBIs in each of his two starts working with Lynn.
"There's going to be periods where this isn't necessarily going to be the case," Matheny said. "Even though they are doing well together, we're still going to be able to throw Yadier in there with any pitcher we have. I'm sure any pitcher in all of baseball would like to have Yadi back there, but right now, it's working well, and we're getting Yadi a little bit of rest on a very long road trip and a very long stretch of games consecutively."
• After an up-and-down 11-game road trip, the Cardinals return home Friday to begin a six-game homestand with a weekend series against the Pirates. Shelby Miller will take the ball on Friday night looking to crack a Pittsburgh lineup that has had his number in each of the right-hander's six career appearances against them.
Miller is 0-5 with a 5.93 ERA in five regular season starts against the Pirates and has given up nine home runs to Pittsburgh hitters, the most he's allowed to any lineup. In his only inning of action during last season's National League Division Series between the two clubs, Miller gave up a home run to Starling Marte in the eighth inning of St. Louis' 7-1 loss in Game 2.
His struggles with the long ball against the Cardinals' NL Central rivals continued in his first start this season. Pedro Alvarez homered twice, and Travis Ishikawa added a solo shot of his own to contribute to Miller's early exit in a 12-2 loss.
"I just gave up some home runs and didn't make the pitches I was supposed to make and ended up losing the game," Miller said of his April 4 outing. "At the end of the day, I just didn't take care of business."
• Molina's day off Thursday means the catcher will get the chance to extend his 14-game hitting streak on Friday in the series opener against the Pirates.
Eric Single is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.