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A cloudburst of runs backs Wainwright's complete game reign in 9-1 Game 1 victory vs. Atlanta

A cloudburst of runs backs Wainwright's complete game reign in 9-1 Game 1 victory vs. Atlanta

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ATLANTA — There is a saying that dates back to the Braves days in Boston when their rotation was so top heavy that fans could count on Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain, and hope for rain. The Cardinals, trying to claw their way out of June’s swamp and regain stability from their rotation, could coin a similar rhyme.

When rain forces a doubleheader, Waino reigns.

A deluge of runs also helps.

Adam Wainwright authored his second complete game of the season and carried the Cardinals to a 9-1 victory Sunday against Atlanta in the first half of a Father’s Day split doubleheader. Wainwright handled all seven innings to set up the bullpen for aggressive use, if needed, in the night game on national television from Truist Park. By the time Wainwright pitched in the sixth inning, the Cardinals had backed their veteran righthander with more runs Sunday than they had in their previous four games – combined.

Paul Goldschmidt produced as many on his own with a three-run homer and four RBIs. Nolan Arenado staked the Cardinals to an early lead with his 13th homer of the season, and he added a double later. Both of the Cardinals’ MVP-caliber corner infielders have discussed publicly in the past week their own slumps, the moments they did not come through for the team, and how they had to elevate the lineup together.

They went 5-for-7 with seven RBIs in Game 1 on Sunday.

Wainwright (5-5) struck out 11 in his seven innings, and he improved to 8-0 when appearing in part of a doubleheader for the Cardinals. His 26 complete games are tied with Justin Verlander for the most by an active pitcher.

At one point he struck out four consecutive Braves, three of them caught looking at a curveball or a sinker.

After more than two weeks of often falling behind early and several days of mustering little when Goldschmidt wasn’t involved, the Cardinals snapped both trends quickly.

For the second consecutive game, leadoff hitter Tommy Edman opened with a base hit, and he reached second by stealing it. That’s where he still was with two outs when Arenado ended a zero-for-20 slump with a two-run homer. The 2-0 lead in the first inning was the first rally by the Cardinals that didn’t involve Goldschmidt in 42 innings. It was not the last of the game, and Goldschmidt contributed several, too.

The Cardinals steadily increased their lead as Wainwright tightened his hold on the win.

In the fourth, Tyler O’Neill opened with a double and promptly scored on Yadier Molina’s single up the middle. When the lineup turned over so that Edman led off the fifth it took two batters for the Cardinals to chase Braves starter Bryse Wilson.

It took two pitches for the reliever to go sideways.

Edman’s bunt single and Dylan Carlson’s double started the inning and pushed the Braves to bring in Josh Tomlin.

Goldschmidt sent the first pitch Tomlin threw into the right-center seats for a three-run homer that signaled a rout was on.

Arenado tagged the second pitch Tomlin threw for a double.

The Cardinals would have tandem three-run rallies in the sixth inning to widen the lead and clear the way for Wainwright to finish the game.

“It’s great to have an anchor like Waino,” manager Mike Shildt said before the game. “There’s no question about that. It speaks to consistency – a word I use a lot. He goes out (and) you know what you’re going to get. It’s typically really good. He’s going to throw strikes. He’s going to bring the signature Uncle Charlie curveball. He’s been able to command the baseball. That’s why it’s good to have him out there competing for us.”

Almost 21 years to the day the Braves drafted him in the first round, Wainwright completed his first regular-season win at their new ballpark. He had won often when the ballpark was in the city, going 4-1 at Turner Field, the place he could have called home if not for the 2003 J.D. Drew trade that made him a Cardinal. One of the pitches that made him a first-round pick, that carried him to the majors, that got him a start in an All-Star Game, was there for him again for his start on Father’s Day.

With family in the stands, Wainwright got nine outs from the first 10 Braves he faced. He did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, and the one run scored against him came on a double steal that credited Freddie Freeman with a steal of home.

Wainwright struck out Freeman on a cutter in the first inning for the first of eight strikeouts through five innings. Several others came on curveballs. When Ronald Acuna Jr. had a crack with a runner on base in the third inning he swung over the curve to strike out and end the inning. In the fifth, when a similar spot found Acuna and the runner was in scoring position, the Braves’ leadoff hitter stared as a curveball dropped past him for a called strike three.

That was the last time the Braves got a runner into scoring position.

The Cardinals’ lineup for Game 2 vs. lefty Drew Smyly:

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, RF

2. Dylan Carlson, CF

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Tyler O'Neill, LF

6. Edmundo Sosa, 2B

7. Paul DeJong, SS

8. Andrew Knizner, C

9. Kwang Hyun Kim, LHP

***

From earlier ... 

First look, fresh start? Cardinals carry minimal history vs. Braves starters into doubleheader

If there's a twist to the Cardinals' lineup for the first game of a split doubleheader Sunday against the Braves at Truist Field it's at second base, where Edmundo Sosa will start the first game even though Atlanta is starting a righthander.

The decision reflects the Cardinals' starter more than the Braves'.

And it's not like there's a lot of history for the Cardinals' hitters against Atlanta's pitcher Bryse Wilson, or the Game 2 starter Drew Smyly, a lefty.

The Cardinals, as a roster, have 11 at-bats of experience in the majors against the two pitchers. Nolan Arenado has four of them, mostly because he's played against Smyly once before. Smyly has reverse splits this season, his first with Atlanta. And that could invite a chance for Matt Carpenter to start at one of his three positions in the nightcap of the back-to-back seven-inning games.

Carpenter has never faced Smyly.

The opportunity for the Cardinals is to split the four-game visit to Atlanta and regain traction in this losing stretch before Monday's off day. They draw a Braves team facing a daunting challenge.

Atlanta has a doubleheader on Sunday, followed by a doubleheader Monday, and they must travel to Queens in between.

They'll play at least 28 innings of baseball in the next 36 hours.

Adam Wainwright, almost 21 years to the date that the Braves drafted in the first round, will start the first game of the doubleheader. Kwang Hyun Kim, originally scheduled for Sunday Night Baseball, will remain on turn for that game and start the night game. 

This will be Wainwright's second career regular-season start at Atlanta's suburban ballpark, which has had a name change since last he pitched here. Wainwright allowed five runs in four innings and took the loss to the Braves. At their previous home, Turner Field, he was 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in nine games (six starts). 

Wainwright has been excellent for the Cardinals in doubleheaders, especially in 2020 when he handled the team's first game back from quarantine, and later pitched a seven-inning shutout in a doubleheader.

The veteran righthander is 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA when pitching in a doubleheader. That includes two relief appearances in 2015. 

Here is the lineup he'll have behind him and the one facing him:

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, RF

2. Dylan Carlson, CF

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Tyler O'Neill, LF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Edmundo Sosa, 2B

8. Paul DeJong, SS

9. Adam Wainwright, RHP

BRAVES

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., RF

2. Freddie Freeman, 1B

3. Ozzie Albies, 2B

4. Abraham Almonte, LF

5. Austin Riley, 3B

6. Dansby Swanson, SS

7. Williams Contreras, C

8. Ender Inciarte, CF

9. Bryse Wilson, RHP

Check back throughout Father's Day for updated coverage here from the first game of the doubleheader and, of course, at StlToday.com and the pages of the Post-Dispatch for complete coverage from on site at Truist Park in Atlanta.

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