CHICAGO — Adam Wainwright proved again he is one of the best pitchers in baseball as he worked around numerous threats and kept the Cards in the ballgame as the Redbirds beat the Cubs 1-0.
It was the Cards’ 18th shutout of the season and gave them the series victory heading into an off day on Monday.
While Wainwright wiggled out of jam after jam all afternoon, the Cards offense couldn’t get out of its own way, scoring just one run despite nine hits.
“[Kyle] Hendricks did a nice job. He didn’t give us a lot,” Matheny said, noting Matt Holliday’s homer as the only breakthrough of the day. “Holly jumped on one, smashed it, and we had our bases loaded opportunity, but not a whole lot after that.”
Wainwright needed every bit of his veteran experience to work his way out of tight spots all day. He stranded a leadoff double by Wellington Castillo in the third, saw Anthony Rizzo thrown out trying to stretch a single and survived a first and third situation in the fifth by fanning the pitcher Kyle Hendrick. Starlin Castro grounded into a double play to end a huge threat in the sixth and a tough play by Kolten Wong ended a two-on threat in the seventh.
“This park is so unique because you can give up a 250 foot homer or a 450 foot out depending on what the wind is doing,” he said. Sunday, it was gusting out to right field with authority.
With two on in the seventh, Wainwright could have been pulled with left handed Nate Schierholtz coming to the dish. Were he to get one in the air to right, a fly ball could morph into a three-run homer.
“I was totally confident in making pitches in that situation. I’m glad they let me have that chance. I was feeling good,” Wainwright said, referring to his meeting with Matheny on the mound. “He asked me how I felt, and I was already going over how I was going to pitch with A.J.. [Matheny] said ‘hey, let me get in this conversation. How do you feel?’ I said, ‘I feel great’ and he said, ‘alright, go get him.’”
The Cards offense, meanwhile, was again ineffective. A line shot home run by Matt Holliday into the basket overhanging centerfield accounted for the only run, that coming three batters into the game. They tallied nine hits on the day but could never string them together. Double plays snuffed three potential rallies, Wainwright’s soft liner ended a base-loaded threat and another was lost when Matt Carpenter was thrown out trying for a double.
“That’s not our game plan going in,” Matheny said, noting the team’s five 1-0 wins. “Part of it is, ‘score one more than them,’ but it doesn’t necessarily need to be just one.”
That kept the pressure on Wainwright and the big right hander responded, keeping the Cubs guessing for the most part. He surrendered five hits, walked three and fanned three in seven grueling innings of work. He threw 98 pitches, just 58 for strikes, but that is deceptive because he pitched around Ryan Sweeney all afternoon and worked the edges of the plate.
Kevin Siegrist threw a scoreless eighth inning and Trevor Rosenthal retired the side in the ninth for his 32nd save to secure the shaky victory.