Adam Wainwright's back looked fine.
Two days after missing a scheduled start with back spasms, Wainwright made his first start after the All-Star break on Sunday and was on his game. He allowed just four hits and no runs over seven innings, striking out seven and walking one, as the Cardinals won their second game in a row, beating Arizona 5-2 at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright didn't have much trouble to pitch out of, but when he did, he got through it. The Diamondbacks had runners on first and third with two out in the third and he got Ketel Marte to fly out. After the first two hitters reach base in the sixth, he retired Arizona's 3-4-5 hitters in order. After that, he went back out to pitch the seventh and retired the side in order. Dominic Leone pitched a scoreless eighth before John Brebbia allowed Arizona to score twice with two out in the ninth. Carlos Martinez came in to get the final out and pick up a save.
“Nothing surprises me, ever, about Adam Wainwright," manager Mike Shildt said. "He’s a special individual, a special talent and he was clearly outstanding today.
“Adam’s a high expectation (guy), just like our club. He’s exactly what we want in that he’s always striving for more. So, if we’re doing well, we want to be even better. Adam’s a great representation of that. That’s his lion heart and his warrior mentality. He’s pitched well, but that's not good enough. He wants to be -- and is -- elite. That’s his bar. That’s our bar, as well.”
It was the second scoreless start of the season for Wainwright, who threw eight scoreless innings against Chicago on June 2. He has held the opposition to three runs or less in each of his past six starts. The five runs the Cardinals scored for him matched the run support he's gotten in his past five games combined. The win was his 154th, moving him past Bill Sherdel for fourth place in Cardinals history.
Paul Goldschmidt, who hit a broken-bat single in the first that got the scoring started for the Cardinals, hit one much harder in the third. He powered a two-run homer to left field in the third inning, part of a three-run inning that opened the game up for the Cardinals.
"It was a good swing," Goldschmidt said. "I was able to hit it and get it out of there. The other ones haven't felt bad either, they've been close but I haven't been able to get the results. Try to keep having good at-bats, hit the ball hard, try to help us win.
"Results were better, to get a home run and another hit, but me, individually, I have to do it the whole rest of the second half. You can't just do it one game. I think that's the key for us as a team, show up and do it every day. We've played good for a day or a series but to win the division or get in the playoffs as a wild card, we're going to have to do it basically every game through the end of the year."
The third inning started with Wainwright drawing a leadoff walk from Arizona's Zach Greinke. Matt Carpenter lined out to short, but Nick Ahmed, trying to catch Wainwright off first, threw the ball into the Cardinals dugout, which sent Wainwright to third, where he scored on a single to right by Yairo Munoz.
Goldschmidt followed that with a towering shot to left, measuring 416 feet, for his 17th home run of the season and his third in six games. Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong followed with singles, but catcher Andrew Knizner grounded out to end the inning.
The Cardinals added a run in the fourth on a leadoff double by Harrison Bader, who went to third on a sacrifice by Wainwright and scored on a sacrifice fly by Carpenter.
After driving in all four runs in Saturday's 4-2 win, Tyler O'Neill got the Cardinals started with an RBI double down the left-field line in the first.
With two outs, Goldschmidt hit a broken-bat blooper to left that Tim Locastro got a bad jump on and allowed to drop in front of him. O'Neill then hit a hard shot down the left field line that Locastro thought would hit the jutting out wall down the line and he moved in on it. But it didn't and went into the corner, forcing a course correction from Locastro and allowing Goldschmidt to score easily from first.
Going into Saturday night's game, O'Neill had four RBIs in 29 games; he has five in the past two.
MUNOZ STARTS AT SHORT
Yairo Munoz will make his third start of the season at shortstop and Andrew Knizner will make his third start behind the plate as the Cardinals close out their weekend series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Knizner's previous two starts have also been with Wainwright on the mound, so at three, he's only 253 starts behind Yadier Molina, who has caught Wainwright 256 times.
Tyler O'Neill, coming off his big game on Saturday night with four runs batted in, is batting cleanup with Paul Goldschmidt batting third.
WACHA TO THE PEN
With Daniel Ponce de Leon set as the starting pitcher for Wednesday, it means that Michael Wacha is out of the rotation for the time being.
"Until another need arises," manager Mike Shildt said.
That was evident on Saturday when Dakota Hudson got into early trouble and Wacha started throwing.
"He'll be in the bullpen," Shildt said. "Clearly (he's) built up beyond anybody else as far as length goes, but I don't want to pigeonhole him in the longman role either."
Jedd Gyorko, who has been on the injured list since June 8, looks to be on their even longer.
"It's going to be longer than we thought," manager Mike Shildt said. "I think we're probably looking at revisiting an evaluation of when he can play in a month or so. He's just dealing with the wrist. The calf is still healing. He's healing in general."
Further complicating things is the timing of his recovery and the fact his wrist is involved. Gyorko could be getting back at the end of August, when minor-league seasons are ending, and he'll have to get his wrist strength back.
"Rehab might be a little tough at that point, but we'll create some opportunities for him," Shildt said. "He's going to have to go play some where and get at-bats and get on the field and be a baseball player for a little while before he comes back."
Outfielder Marcell Ozuna said he still wasn't gripping a bat, so he looks to be still a few weeks off.
1. Carpenter 3b
2. Munoz ss
3. Goldschmidt 1b
4. O'Neill lf
5. Fowler rf
6. Wong 2b
7. Knizner c
8. Bader cf
9. Wainwright p
1. Locastro lf
2. Marte cf
3. Escobar 3b
4. Walker 1b
5. Jones rf
6. Avila c
7. Ahmed ss
8. Vargas 2b
9. Greinke p