KANSAS CITY • The later in the game he pitched, the better Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright got.
The Cardinals' righty slogged through the early innings of the game. Kansas City tagged him for 10 hits before he was halfway through the game. He needed 72 pitches to get through five innings and wasn't out of the first third of the game when he threw his 40th pitch.
His last inning took four pitches to complete. Wainwright got his final six outs of the game on a total of 10 pitches.
That quick finish combined with the Cardinals' steady offense for a 6-3 victory Monday against the Royals at the Cardinals' home away from home, Kauffman Stadium. A game that was delayed more than an hour by a deluge was also awash in Cardinals fans. Red dominated the stands, and during the seventh-inning stretch the "root, root, root for the Cardinals" drowned out the Royals faithful. It was a complete invasion from the East.
No Cardinal received louder cheers from the away/home crowd than catcher Yadier Molina. He homered, doubled, drove in four runs, scored twice and reached base in all but one plate appearance. In that one, he hit a sacrifice fly that proved to be the insurance run.
Molina is nine-for-21 on the road trip.
Batting ninth with the American League's designated in play, Daniel Descalso had two hits and two runs scored.
The Cardinals hung six runs on Royals pitcher James Shields. That is a season-high for any opponent against the righty, who had allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his previous four starts. The Cardinals worked for nine hits and five walks off Shields.
Wainwright allowed three runs on 12 hits. He did not a walk batter. He struck out five. One of the three runs scored on a wild pitch.
Edward Mujica worked a scoreless ninth for his 15th save in as many opportunities since taking over as Cardinals closer.
The Cardinals conclude the KC portion of this home-and-home interleague series with a night game Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. The two teams then pop over to St. Louis for a two-game series at Busch.
Cardinals expand lead to 6-3
That snappy, crisp and taut pitching duel that could have happened given the two starters for today's game at Kauffman Stadium didn't.
But then the thunderstorms expected this afternoon never arrived either.
Shrug. That's how forecasts work, right?
In a game defined more by its bloop base hits and Yadier Molina than anything the pitchers have done at the Big K, the Cardinals have a 6-3 lead through six innings. They hung a season-high six runs on Royals starter James Shields. The righty with the 2.47 ERA coming into the game walked five and allowed six runs on nine hits.
Those are fewer hits than the Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright has allowed this afternoon.
The Cardinals righty has improved his success with each passing inning, though KC has still dented his line with 11 hits and three runs. Royals leadoff hitter David Lough has set a career high with three hits. And he scored the Royals first run. The Royals moved within a run of the Cardinals in the third inning with two runs off Wainwright. A bloop single by Eric Hosmer scored one run, and a wild pitch from Wainwright brought home the other run.
A diving snow-cone stop by second baseman Daniel Descalso got the final out of the inning and kept the rally from tying the game.
The Cardinals have added two runs since.
Molina collected his fourth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. Matt Carpenter doubled home Pete Kozma for the Cardinals' sixth run of the game.
Molina tags Shields again for 4-1 lead
In his previous 10 starts for the Royals this season, righty James Shields has been as advertised. He's been a human quality start, a reliable front-line starter who a team can build a rotation around.
The negative proves the positive.
The Cardinals have pounded Shields for four runs through three innings. That already ties the most he's allowed in any previous start since joining the Royals in the offseason trade. His season-high for earned runs allowed is four.
The Cardinals lead 4-1 through 2 1/2 innings.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who had never faced Shields before this afternoon, has three of the RBIs. He homered in the first inning and he followed with an RBI double in the top of the third inning. Molina's double scored Daniel Descalso, and Molina then scored on Allen Craig's RBI single.
Molina's homer from unlikely spot puts Cards ahead
In only his ninth career plate appearance as a No. 2 hitter, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina showed why he had moved to the regular at No. 5 in the order over the past couple seasons.
Molina cranked a two-run home run to the fountains in left-center field at Kauffman Stadium to put the Cardinals ahead 2-0.
With Matt Holliday out of the lineup and Carlos Beltran batting third, Molina moved into unusual territory for the catcher, batting second. Sometimes because of footspeed and sometimes because of his success lower in the order, Molina has rarely started at No. 2 in the order. He has hit fifth in the lineup for 40 of his starts this season.
He hit second in one start last season.
This was only the third time in his career that he's hit second to start a game. One came last season.
The first batters of the game all reached base against KC ace James Shields, the prized righty who the Royals traded their top prospect for this past winter. Matt Carpenter stung a two-strike single to left field and Molina followed with his homer. The third of his season traveled an estimated 409 feet.
Beltran followed with a walk only to be quickly erased on a double play by Allen Craig.
The Royal answered with a run in the bottom of the first on two doubles off Adam Wainwright. Alex Gordon drove home the run, but rather than staying at second base as the potential tying run, he slid past it and was tagged out.
The Cardinals lead 2-1 after one inning.
The start of the game was delayed 62 minutes by weather. There were also ceremonies to honor veterans and active military personnel.
Martinez to be conditioned for future starts
The Cardinals decided to option rookie Carlos Martinez to Class AAA Memphis so that he could begin the process of stretching out his strength and stamina for eventual starts.
Martinez, a starter his entire minor-league career, made a series of appearances in relief in the majors.
His outings, however, were sporadic.
The Cardinals, so starting rich at the beginning of the season, could now see a need for him as a starter down the road and want to build his pitch count and innings load up to that point that he'll be ready. Manager Mike Matheny confirmed the plan this morning before the Cardinals game against the Royals.
The game is set to start 60 minutes late because of a rain delay.
"We need to have him ready to start," Matheny said. "With the situation we're in that's what we need."
First pitch delayed until 2:10 p.m., at the earliest
Rain persists in the Kauffman Stadium area and officials announced that the game will be delayed an hour until 2:10 p.m. St. Louis time, at the earliest.
The threat of thunderstorms remains in the area for the afternoon.
The grounds crew has removed the tarp as of 12:20 p.m. local time. Neither team was able to take batting practice on the field because of the weather, which had intensified in the hours leading up to first pitch.
Thursday decision hinges on today
Mike Matheny offered only that the team will consider to weigh options when it comes to Thursday's start at Busch Stadium. The team could go with a bullpen start -- meaning the use of several relievers to cover the innings needed from one starter. Joe Kelly could start that game. Michael Wacha remains a possibility. He was removed from today's scheduled start at Class AAA Memphis, just in case.
How today's game plays out in KC will influence the decision, Matheny said. The use of a long reliever today or after Tyler Lyons on Tuesday night would tilt the plan.
Westbrook cancels second opinion while Wacha waits
Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha has been scratched from his scheduled start this afternoon for Class AAA Memphis. The decision to delay his appearance was made this morning in order to keep him available for the start Thursday in the majors.
General manager John Mozeliak, who traveled to join the team in KC, will meet with manager Mike Matheny to discuss their options.
Wacha, unbeaten in Triple-A, was the team's first-round pick in 2012.
The Cardinals' other options are to go with a bullpen start Thursday against the Royals at Busch Stadium or promote a starter, though the choices are limited. The Cardinals did bring reliever Victor Marte to Kansas City for this afternoon's game against the Royals.
To make room on the roster for the big righty, the club optioned Carlos Martinez to Memphis. Martinez will presumably join the rotation there with the Redbirds to rebuild his stamina for starting.
But, wait, there's more to the news this morning ...
Jake Westbrook arrived at the ballpark this morning planning to leave for Pensacola, Fla., on a noon flight that would take him to Dr. James Andrews. Westbrook was set to see the specialist about ongoing soreness in his right elbow -- a joint that has already had several surgeries on it. Westbrook has received two shots into the elbow during the past couple weeks, and the elbow did not improve during a bullpen session in California.
Before leaving for his flight, Westbrook wanted to throw again. He got on the indoor mound here at Kauffman Stadium and threw about 20 fastballs. The elbow stayed happy. He then took a break and got back up on the mound and threw all of his pitches in a simulated inning. Again the elbow stayed quiet.
"I wanted to see how it felt," Westbrook said "Worst case scenario I have to go and get a second opinion and reschedule. But I want to push it because it has been feeling good and see if maybe the pain has passed."
Here is the lineup for today's game against KC, the Cardinals' first of the season with a designated hitter:
1. Matt Carpenter, RF
2. Yadier Molina, C
3. Carlos Beltran, DH
4. Allen Craig, LF
5. Matt Adams, 1B
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Jon Jay, CF
8. Pete Kozma, SS
9. Daniel Descalso, 2B
Adam Wainwright will start opposite Royals righty James Shields.
Matt Holliday said he's getting a scheduled day off. He said either he's getting "a day off or I've been benched." He does not have a physical ailment that would keep him from the field or from starting at designated hitter today.
The KC area has been doused by thunderstorms all morning, and the field at Kauffman remains covered with no word on whether the game will start on time or not. Both of the team's batting practices have been waved off because of the weather, which intensified for several hours about three hours before first pitch.
Check back throughout the day here at StlToday.com and Cardinal Beat for information on the game, Thursday's starter, weather, and everything else coming from the start of the home-and-home I-70 series.