The Adam Wainwright of old – as in, August – returned on Saturday night at Busch Stadium and sent the Cardinals back into first place in the NL Central.
Wainwright struck out eight and allowed just two hits in seven innings in a 5-0 win over the Pirates. The Cardinals came into the game a half-game back of the Pirates and the teams flipped spots, with the Cards now up a half game. First place in the division will be at stake again on Sunday when the teams close out their season series at 1:15 p.m. The Reds also won on Saturday, so they're 1 ½ games back of the Cardinals and a game back of Pittsburgh.
Wainwright had been hit hard by the Reds in each of his past two starts, but he said he found he was tipping his pitches and corrected the problem. The Reds had gotten 17 hits off of Wainwright in eight innings over two starts. On Aug. 28, he lasted just two innings.
There was none of that this time. The Pirates got runners on in three of the first four innings, but only got one, Andrew McCutchen who led off the fourth with a double. Wainwright retired the last 11 Pirates he faced and struck out the side in his final inning, throwing a fastball past Pedro Alvarez on pitch No. 100.
The Cardinals got their five runs on just six hits and got the most out of what they had. The Cardinals scored in the fourth on a walk to Carlos Beltran, a double by Yadier Molina, a sacrifice fly by David Freese and an infield single by Pete Kozma. They added a run in the fifth without a hit, taking advantage of Carpenter getting hit by pitch, a throwing error by shortstop Clint Barmes and an infield out. Then Freese hit his eighth homer of the season, dropping the ball on the grass behind center field. The Cardinals added another run in the eighth after a leadoff double by Molina, who went 2 for 3 with a walk.
FREESE HOMER MAKES IT 4-0
David Freese hit a leadoff homer in the sixth off reliever Jeanmar Gomez to put the Cardinals up 4-0 over the Pirates.
First place in the NL Central is at stake. The Cardinals come into the game a half-game back in the standings.
With shades of the 2011 World Series, Freese hit a 1-1 pitch 425 feet onto the grass behind center field. It's Freese's eighth homer of the season.
Adam Wainwright, meanwhile, was in a groove. He struck out the side in the seventh, with Pedro Alvarez looking at a called third strike on pitch No. 100. Wainwright retired the last 11 Pirates he faced. The first two third strikes were on curve balls, the last on a four-seam fastball. Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth.
CARDS EXTEND LEAD TO 3-0 IN FIFTH
The Cardinals added a run without a hit in the fifth inning to extend their lead to 3-0 over the Pirates.
Matt Carpenter started the inning by getting hit on the foot by a pitch from Jeff Locke. Shane Robinson hit a ground ball into the hole at short and Clint Barmes tried to go to second for the force, but his throw was wide and went into right field, with Carpenter and Robinson moving to third and second. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to short to score Carpenter and make it 3-0. With the infield in, Carlos Beltran hit a ground ball to third and Pedro Alvarez threw home. His throw was to the inside of the base and Russell Martin had to make a sweep behind his back to make the tag, with umpire Larry Vanover calling Robinson out. Replays weren't definitive, but Robinson, who didn't slide on the play, may have been safe.
CARDINALS TAKE 2-0 LEAD IN FOURTH
With Adam Wainwright back on his game, the Cardinals staked him to a 2-0 lead over the Pirates with two runs in the fourth inning on Saturday night.
The Cardinals are a half game back of the Pirates in the NL Central and could move into first place with a win.
Carlos Beltran started the inning by drawing a walk from Pirates starter Jeff Locke. Yadier Molina followed with a double into the right-field corner, the eighth double for the Cardinals in this series. Beltran stopped at third. David Freese hit a long fly into the left-field corner that Jose Tabata caught, but it was deep enough for Beltran to stroll home from third. A wild pitch by Locke sent Molina to third and after Brock Peterson struck out, Pete Kozma beat out a grounder that Pedro Alvarez had to back hand down the third-base line, scoring Molina to make it 2-0. After going 0 for 33, Kozma has now gone 2 for 4, though neither hit left the infield.
Wainwright pitched his way out of some trouble in the fourth. After allowing a leadoff double to Andrew McCutchen and a walk to Justin Morneau, he got Marlon Byrd to hit into a double play and struck out Pedro Alvarez.
WAINWRIGHT STARTS WITH THREE SCORELESS INNINGS
After the two worst outings of his season, Cards starter Adam Wainwright was back in his usual form on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright held the Pirates to just a single and a walk over the first three innings as the teams were even at 0-0 after three innings. Wainwright struck out three and the Pirates haven't gotten a runner past first base. Wainwright's first strikeout was his 1,096th as a Cardinals, putting him in sole possession of second place in franchise history, behind Bob Gibson.
The Cardinals' offense, however, hasn't been able to help him out. The Cardinals have had runners in every winning but have been unable to score. Back-to-back one-out walks by Pirates starter Jeff Locke gave the Cards runners on first and second with one out in the second, but Brock Peterson and Pete Kozma couldn't drive them in. Wainwright led off the third with a double and finished the inning there after Matt Carpenter, Shane Robinson and Matt Holliday made outs.
CALL-UP PETERSON GETS START FOR GAME 2 WITH PIRATES
First place in the NL Central is at stake today when the Cardinals and the Pirates face at Busch Stadium at 6:15 p.m.
The Cardinals trail the Pirates by a half game, so they will either jump into first place by a half game or fall 1 1/2 games back and assure the Pirates of leaving St. Louis in first place after Sunday's game.
Brock Peterson, recently arrived from Memphis as a September callup, will make his second big-league start at first base. Manager Mike Matheny said he wanted to give Matt Adams a day off and doing it against a left-handed pitcher, Jeff Locke, was a good time to do it. Peterson, who was used mostly as a pinch hitter in an earlier call up, has two hits in 16 at-bats.
"He had a great season (in Memphis), he really did," Matheny said. "He's able to hit some lefties and we're trying to figure out 1) how to get Matt Adams feeling right and staying right and lefties aren't necessarily the best way to get him into that groove and the other thing, there's no secret, we're trying to figure out how we can have more consistent hitting against left-handed pitching. This guy has some ability and will be able to help us out."
Pete Kozma is also back in the starting lineup, for the first time since Sept. 1. Kozma snapped an 0 for 33 slump with a 15-foot bunt single on Friday night. "Getting one's a big deal for him right now," Matheny said. (Matheny said he once started a season in the minor leagues going 0 for 32 after he was asked to try switch hitting five days before the start of the year.)
Matheny said Wainwright was tipping pitches and Wainwright has addressed that issue after getting rocked by the Reds in his past two starts. "He's made some corrections and I know he's anxious to get back out there," Matheny said.
The Reds beat the Dodgers 4-3 in 10 innings and are, at the moment, one game back of the Cardinals and 1 1/2 behind the Pirates. If the Cards win tonight, the top three teams in the Central will be separated by 1 1/2 games.
1. Carpenter 2b
2. Robinson cf
3. Holliday lf
4. Beltran rf
5. Molina c
6. Freese 3b
7. Peterson 1b
8. Kozma ss
9. Wainwright p
1. Tabata lf
2. Walker 2b
3. McCutchen cf
4. Morneau 1b
5. Byrd rf
6. Alvarez 3b
7. Martin c
8. Barmes ss
9. Locke p