ST. LOUIS – Runs have been hard to come by recently as the St. Louis Cardinals try to close in on a postseason spot.

Wednesday marks the third straight game that ended with a shutout loss. The Cardinals have only scored once over their last four games, and that run came via a throwing error to secure an extra-innings win.

The collective slump gives the Cardinals 43 consecutive innings without scoring an earned run. That stretches back to the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, during which Yadier Molina delivered a two-run home run in the third inning.

The unfortunate reality could lead the Cardinals to a baseball record on Thursday that no team wants: The most consecutive innings without scoring an earned run. The current record stands at 48 innings, reached by the 1968 Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis will need to end its scoring drought by the fifth inning of Thursday’s matinee to avoid matching that record or by the sixth inning to avoid passing it.

It’s arguably the team’s toughest stretch of the year since starting July with a 2-7 record. The clubhouse is grinding through it and hopes the drought doesn’t become a distraction.

“When you go through what we’re going through right now, how you respond to it, it tells you a lot about who they are, their character, their ability to fight through it,” said Cardinals manager Oli Marmol. “I have a ton of confidence in them, and they have a ton of confidence in themselves. I am concerned zero.”

Like runs, hit totals have dropped in recent weeks. The Cardinals have averaged only around five hits over the last four games, battling through 6.2 no-hit innings in Wednesday’s loss before Albert Pujols singled to break up the bid.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Cardinals will look to break out of the slump behind an 87-63 record. St. Louis has a seven-game division lead over the Milwaukee Brewers and a magic number of six to clinch a postseason spot.