(BaseballStL) – With only 11 games left in the regular season, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was candid knowing the Redbirds needed their ace to have a strong outing against the Brewers with the Pittsburgh Pirates chipping away toward first place.
Well, Adam Wainwright threw his ninth career complete game shutout and 21st in his career as the Cards beat the Brewers 2-0.
Strong outing accomplished.
“I’d say that was an impressive pitching performance all the way to the beginning,” Matheny said.
Wainwright fanned seven batters and had one bad inning with the bases loaded. But the Cardinals All-Star stranded all three runners and he cruised through to the finish throwing 102 pitches.
“It’s good to be back and making pitches when I need to,” Wainwright said, “I knew we had a tough challenge. We needed some zeroes up there. More importantly, I was locating the ball and staying ahead in the count, keeping them off balance.”
Wainwright’s counterpart, Mike Fiers, wasn’t bad either as he had a no hitter going into the sixth inning until slugger Wainwright muscled a single into center.
“That’s something he enjoys rubbing in the everyday hitters,” Matheny laughed, “about who the best athletes are on the field.”
Wainwright said he was only trying to provide a spark for his struggling offense, who also struck out seven times against Fiers. And it paid off as the Redbirds scored their two runs in the seventh inning.
Matt Holliday just missed his 19th home run of the season with a ball just outside the left field foul pole. The Cardinals' left fielder then drew a one-out walk. Matt Adams stroked a ball into right center that Carlos Gomez misplayed and as Holliday made his way to third, Jose Oquendo sent him home.
“[Oquendo’s] aggressive,” Matheny said, “When you’re having trouble getting anything together, we had trouble getting a hit, let alone a run. We have to be over aggressive there. We’ve got to try to make something happen.”
Holliday swerved avoiding the tag from Jonathon Lucroy as the big guy completed his mad dash from first to give the Redbirds their game winning run. Jhonny Peralta singled home Adams in the next at-bat to give Wainwright a lead he didn't squander.
“I’ve been hitting a lot of balls hard at people and that one definitely felt good,” Adams added, “That felt like playoff baseball right there. I was just glad to be on the right side of it. We’re confident now and we’re playing with our best stuff.”