SAN FRANCISCO • Adam Wainwright thrives on showing a different look nearly every time he faces a hitter or a team, whether it be a complete windup, a windup from the belt or a hesitation windup a la the Japanese pitchers.
The Cardinals' ace also enjoys varying the speeds and breaks of a fistful of pitches. But he tried something completely different at AT&T Park tonight. He endeavored to pitch a shutout without striking anybody out.
He almost made it as the Cardinals held off the San Francisco Giants, 2-0, to snip a losing streak at three.. As it turned out, Wainwright finally got a strikeout to end the seventh inning and he needed help from both Pat Neshek, who inherited a two-on, two-out spot in the eighth, and Trevor Rosenthal, who gained his 25th save to Wainwright's 11th win.
Wainwright, who ranked eighth in the National League with 105 strikeouts before the game, became a ground-ball machine for the first 6 2/3 innings.
Of the first 20 Giants outs, 16 were recorded on the ground, including a diving stop by third baseman Matt Carpenter on Pablo Sandoval's grounder for the second out of the seventh. Four were in the air, including three fly balls to center where rookie Oscar Taveras, getting his first big-league taste of the position, handled two and defensive replacement Peter Bourjos one.
Finally, Wainwright caught Michael Morse on a checked swing to end the seventh for his first and only strikeout.
Since being roughed up by the Giants in St. Louis on May 30, to the tune of seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, Wainwright (11-4) has made five starts, with a break in the middle to rest a tingling right elbow. He has given up only four earned runs over 38 2/3 innings for an 0.93 ERA.
Dry spell ends after 26 innings.
After 26 fruitless innings over two shutouts and parts of two other games, the Cardinals have scored.
Rookie Oscar Taveras led off the third inning tonight with a double over the first-base bag. This led to a virtual cloudburst. Two runs.
Mark Ellis, eight for 19 against San Francisco Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, laced a single to right center, with Taveras being stopped at third by coach Jose Oquendo. Adam Wainwright struck out trying to sacrifice but Matt Carpenter, who has delivered nine of 10 runners from third base with under two outs, singled to right center to score Taveras.
Matt Holliday, who had grounded into his 12trh double play in the first, poked a single to right to score Ellis and Wainwright had a 2-0 lead.
Wainwright unusually walked two in the first three innings, including Vogelsong with one out in the third. But both were gobbled up in double plays started by shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
The first 10 outs recorded by Wainwright were all fly balls before Buster Posey flied to center fielder Taveras in the fourth. The next out also was in the air as third baseman Carpenter leaped high to backhand Pablo Sandoval's liner. It was still 2-0.
Wainwright continued his shutout path in the fifth, helped by second baseman Ellis, who fielded Tyler Colvin's smash to his right. Earlier, Taveras had tracked down Michael Morse's fly to deep center.
The Giants had just one hit, Colvin's third-inning single, through five innings while the Cardinals had only one hit between the fourth and sixth off Vogelsong.
Rookie Joe Panik whistled a single over Wainwright's head to start the Giants' sixth. Vogelsong sacrificed, being retired in strange fashion when Carpenter, charging hard from third, fielded the ball and arrived at the first-base line in time to tag Vogelsong.
Wainwright made a strong throw to first to retire Gregor Blanco after picking up a tapper to his right. Then, Wainwright induced Hunter Pence to break his bat as he grounded to Peralta.
Taveras in center
Rookie Oscar Taveras, hitless in three at-bats in his re-emergence Tuesday night, is back in the Cardinals' lineup tonight, but Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Matt Adams are there, too. So what does it all mean?
It means that manager Mike Matheny, who has seen his club mount one run in the last three games, will go for offense over defense and install Taveras in center field at AT&T Park, where outfield defense can be tricky.
Left field and right field are considered Taveras' better defensive positions. He has not played there for the Cardinals this season.
"Our need for offense supercedes our concern about him in center field," said Matheny. "It's no secret we're having a hard time getting our offense rolling. We're trying to get somebody in there that make a difference.
"We need to score some runs."
Jon Jay will sit as Adam Wainwright seeks his 11th win against the Giants, who will start Ryan Vogelsong, a postseason thorn for the Cardinals two years ago when he allowed two runs in two starts as the Giants beat the Cardinals in the National League championship series.
Holliday is hitting second again. Craig, though still scuffling, is back in the cleanup spot and Adams, the club's top hitter, is batting third.
San Francisco lineup