OAKLAND, Calif. • In his first outing since expressing frustration with a start cut short earlier this week at Busch Stadium, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright finished what he started Saturday.
Wainwright threw a complete game against the host Oakland Athletics and strong-armed the Cardinals to a 7-1 victory.
The Cardinals ace needed only 77 pitches to get through seven innings, and when he ran into brief trouble in the eighth inning with two runners base and a six-run lead to protect, Wainwright got a key strikeout that kept him in the game. Wainwright struck out eight, including Yoenis Cespedes three times.
The Cardinals had only two relievers warm up at all in the game, and Randy Choate got only a few pitches into his warmup in the ninth before the final out landed in Matt Carpenter's glove.
Wainwright halted the Cardinals first extended skid of the season, giving them only their second win in seven games. The complete game was his fourth of the season. He leads the majors in that category.
Wainwright improved to 11-5.
Matt Adams provided the bulk of the offense with two home runs and four RBIs in the game.
Adams' two home runs back Wainwright's gem
He hasn't had that many at-bats against lefties this season, but so far Matt Adams has offered little reason not to get him more.
Adams pushed the Cardinals to a 7-0 lead through eight innings with his first major-league multi-homer game. That included his first home run off a lefthanded pitcher in the majors.
The rookie slugger, a lefthanded hitter, turned on the first pitch he saw from reliever Jerry Blevins for a three-run shot into the left-field seats. In 10 previous at-bats against lefties this season, Adams had three hits. Overall, in his career in the majors he had 10 strikeouts in 32 at-bats against lefty, and this year's numbers are certainly too small of a sample size to draw a conclusion. But Adams, who figured to get more at-bats during this tour of the AL, did get to stay in the game to face Blevins.
The Cardinals already had a run in thanks to Matt Holliday's RBI single off the third different pitcher he faced in his three plate appearances this afternoon.
Adams added a solo home run in the eighth. He has six home runs so far this season.
The Cardinals may not need much this afternoon because of ace Adam Wainwright. The righty has not only been effective and efficient but also ruthless with his curveball. Wainwright has struck out Yoenis Cespedes in all three at-bats. Wainwright completed his seventh inning on just seven pitches. He has thrown seven shutout innings on 77 pitches total.
Cards take a 2-0 lead with Parker out
It didn't take long for the Cardinals to capitalize on the A's having to go their bullpen in an emergency.
The inning after starter Jarrod Parker left with what the team announced was tightness in his right hamstring, the Cardinals seized on a reliever for a 2-0 lead. Reliever Jesse Chavez spurred the Cardinals' rally with a walk to leadoff hitter Matt Adams and a plunking of David Freese. Both of those Cardinals scored.
A sacrifice bunt by Jon Jay and a sacrifice fly from Daniel Descalso scored Adams.
Matt Carpenter's single scored Freese from second on what almost was an out at the plate. Freese can motoring around third base and eased toward the plate as if he didn't expect a throw. He arrived without a slide, and Derek Norris got the throw and the tag there just a beat too late. Yadier Molina, from the on-deck circle, gave Freese little guidance as to where the throw was coming, if at all.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright continues to plow through the A's lineup. He struck out No. 8 hitter Eric Sogard on a 92-mph, called-strike fastball to end the fifth inning. It was Wainwright's fourth strikeout of the game and his third in the past five batters. He has utilized his curve for the others.
A's Parker bounced from game by injury
As he delivered a pitch to Allen Craig in the middle of the fourth inning, Athletics' pitcher Jarrod Parker crumpled to the ground and quickly grabbed his right hamstring.
Craig doubled off the wall for the first extra-base hit of the game.
The A's trainer rushed to Parker's aid. He tried to stretch the muscle. Parker tried to walk it off. With manager Bob Melvin watching from two steps away, Parker even went through a few warmup tosses to see if the muscle would let him continue. Melvin wouldn't.
Parker's early departure because of injury interrupted what had been a pitchers' duel at O.co Coliseum.
Parker retired the first eight batters he faced before Daniel Descalso's single in the top of the third inning. Adam Wainwright had matched him zero for zero with three scoreless innings to start his game. Wainwright has allowed one hit and pitched around an fielding error by Matt Adams. Wainwright has faced one over the minimum through three innings.
Parker struck out three in his 3 2/3 innings.
The game is scoreless, 0-0, as the teams move into the bottom of the fourth.
Wainwright takes the mound as stopper
In need of a buoy in this tumultuous trip through the American League, the Cardinals turn to their surest hand.
A crowded house is expected this afternoon at O.co Coliseum -- it's Coco Crisp bobble-torso day! -- and to try and stem what's become a tremendous homefield advantage for the host A's the Cardinals turn to ace Adam Wainwright. The righty is coming off a somewhat newsworthy start from which he was removed in the seventh inning and left to watch as an error and a erosion lost the game for him.
Wainwright expressed his frustration after the game and has since apologized -- publicly and likely privately -- to manager Mike Matheny for question his removal from the game.
Matheny said this morning that the whole exchange made the clubhouse stronger and further underscored Wainwright's role as a leader and tone-setter in the clubhouse.
They could use that on the mound, too.
The Cardinals have lost five of their past six games and tumbled out of first place in the National League Central. Oakland has won 16 of its past 18 games at home. Five of the past six series in Oakland have resulted in sweeps.
Some notes from the pre-game:
-- Shelby Miller will make his next scheduled start, as planned, Matheny said. There will be no shuffling of the rotation to move Joe Kelly's start up to the Anaheim series and push Miller back.
-- Matheny did not dismiss the idea that Miller has had to learn how to perform through "the aches and pains" that are going to come from the season. The manager said it was a coincidence that Miller's struggles traced back to the game that he left with leg cramps. Miller has checked out fine since and hasn't had any lingering troubles with his leg muscles, Matheny said.
-- Matheny spoke about the legacy of Albert Pujols' in the Cardinals clubhouse and mentioned that it's there every day for fans to see. Yadier Molina's run as a potential MVP-caliber player traces back to the work that he and Pujols did together and the model that Pujols set, Matheny said.
Here is the lineup that will back Wainwright today:
1. Carpenter, 2B
2. Molina, C
3. Beltran, DH
4. Craig, RF
5. Holliday, LF
6. Adams, 1B
7. Freese, 3B
8. Jay, CF
9. Descalso, SS
Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, RHP
And on the other side of the O.co, this is the lineup:
1. Crisp, CF
2. Smith, DH
3. Lowrie, SS
4. Cespedes, LF
5. Moss, 1B
6. Donaldson, 3B
7. Reddick, RF
8. Sogard, 2B
9. Norris, C
Pitcher: Jarrod Parker, RHP
Check back throughout the afternoon and evening here at C-Beat and StlToday.com from coverage and news from the ballpark and the Cardinals' game against the A's.