MILWAUKEE • Adam Wainwright left the field, barely under his own power, refusing manager Mike Matheny’s determined desire to help him.
“I was grabbing him. He was fighting me the whole time,” said Matheny. “I told him I just about grabbed him and fireman-carried him off the field.”
But Matt Holliday, finally supplying some power, left the ball park Saturday night as the Cardinals survived what appears to be a serious ankle injury to their pitching ace to roll to their ninth victory in 10 games, dispatching the sagging Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 at Miller Park.
After working four scoreless innings, Wainwright, leading off the fifth, took a hefty swing and popped the ball to the right side where first baseman Adam Lind would make the catch. But as he started to run to first, Wainwright pulled up lame after the first step or two and tried to continue running but finally had to stop, having hurt his left ankle.
Wainwright ultimately limped into the dugout and then up the tunnel to the clubhouse. The medical staff reported that Wainwright would be re-evaluated on Monday after the Cardinals return home from this trip Sunday night. But, with Wainwright in a walking boot as he left the park, it is safe to assume he won’t be pitching Thursday or any time soon. It could be a very long time, as in season-ending.
“That would be real tough,” Wainwright said, “especially the way I was starting to feel. It was by far the best I’ve felt this year. That’s the hardest part, knowing that I was making such good adjustments and now I’ve got a setback.
“I’ve never had anything down there to compare it to,” said Wainwright. “I’m thinking what in the heck just hit me. I thought the catcher’s mask must have hit me. Or the bat must have hit me.
“It was crazy,” said Wainwright. “I wasn’t even going that hard. I just popped it up.
“I saw that it was in play so I started to run and my foot just shut down on me. It’s in the back of my ankle. Everything right now is all speculation. I’ve not got my hopes up or down.”
That speculation certainly would include, though, an Achilles-type injury. The Achilles tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, not far from the area of injury Wainwright was trying to describe.
“There’s not much swelling but right now it’s pretty wrapped up,” he said. “It’s a very strange sensation. It’s just kind of numb right now.
“It’s unfortunate, but we won the game. The bullpen did a great job.”
Catcher Yadier Molina, already out with a right knee bruise although not nearly as long as Wainwright will be out, said, “It’s bad,” if Wainwright is out for a long time.
Matheny said he didn’t have a really good feeling about the injury but he added, “We can’t make any absolutes either. It’s the same exact thing I told him. Don’t play WebMD here. Get home and let the doctors figure this out.”
The Cardinals bullpen, starting with rookie Mitch Harris, who made a successful major-league debut, held the line, protecting a 2-0 lead into the seventh.
Then it was Holliday’s time.
Holliday, batting .367 at game time albeit with 17 singles and one lone double, had said, “I’d like to hit some more homers and doubles. But it’s one of those things where you can’t force it.”
Whether or not he pressed the issue, Holliday, who has hit 20 or more homers for the last nine seasons, rocketed the first pitch he saw from Milwaukee righthander Jeremy Jeffress for his first homer of the season, a three-run drive, as the Cardinals expanded their lead before the Brewers rallied for three in the eighth off Kevin Siegrist, Randy Choate and Seth Maness.
Matt Carpenter, getting two more hits as he hiked his hitting streak to 12 games, doubled with one out off lefthander Will Smith and Jason Heyward worked a walk from Smith before embattled Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke switched to righthander Jeffress.
On his way to the dugout, Roenicke gave home-plate umpire Dale Scott an earful and was ejected for showing his displeasure. But Scott had nothing to do with what happened next.
By game’s end, Roenicke had a 4-1 record in replay challenges and his team had lowered its record to 3-15, dropping 10 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central Division.
The Cardinals extended their scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 over three games before the Brewers broke through in the eighth. Maness then retired the side in the ninth to gain his first save as Trevor Rosenthal, who had pitched three days in a row, and Jordan Walden, who had appeared in 11 of the first 15 games, got the night off.
Lefthanded specialist Choate, who had allowed just one hit to lefthanded-batting Adam Lind in 18 at-bats, gave up a first-pitch, run-scoring single to Lind in the eighth.
Maness relieved and lost command of a slider which nailed Khris Davis high on his left shoulder to fill the bases and then Aramis Ramirez doubled in two more runs.
Naval Academy graduate Harris, the first Midshipman to reach the majors since 1921, escaped a walk and a bloop single in the fifth by retiring Hector Gomez on a fly to center and Martin Maldonado on a popup to first.
“I could tell my body was amped up. I rushed a few pitches but overall I felt really good,” said Harris.
After Harris put two more men on in the sixth, Matt Belisle, who was credited with the win, relieved to fan Ryan Braun and Lind, both on called third strikes.
Kolten Wong’s triple and a subsequent wild throw gave the Cardinals two runs in the second inning.
Wong tripled over the head of center fielder Gerardo Parra to the left-center-field wall. Mark Reynolds scored easily and Wong, who was headed for third, was waved home when shortstop Jean Segura’s relay throw sailed out of play.
The Brewers’ baserunning, which was sketchy on Friday in a shutout loss, misfired again in the second. After Lind opened with a double off Wainwright, the ball going over the head of a leaping Jon Jay in center, Lind correctly stayed at second on Davis’ slow roller to third baseman Carpenter.
But Lind incorrectly allowed himself to be doubled off second on Ramirez’s liner to shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Then in the fourth, Parra, who was part of a bunting misadventure on Friday, popped up a bunt attempt as he tried to take the ball with him to the right side. The ball went right to second baseman Wong. Segura, unsure of what to do, broke for second after hesitating, and was tagged out by Wong as the second baseman had come to earth out of his jump.