Wainwright, 'pen can't contain Phillies
Starter allows seven runs; Pujols, Ludwick, Molina homer
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' starting rotation was on a roll. Then it ran into the Phillies' lineup.
An offense that has long vexed St. Louis pitchers did so again in a two-game mini-series at Busch Stadium. Two homers, four doubles and 15 hits led to a 10-7 Philadelphia thumping of Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals on Tuesday night. Wainwright joined Monday starter Kyle Lohse in suffering his first loss and worst game of the year at the hands of the defending World Series champs.
Wainwright threw strikes, continuing a turnaround from early in the season when he was issuing far too many walks. He just didn't throw enough good strikes. He was up in the zone too often, inviting hard contact and getting it.
"It wasn't good," Wainwright said. "It speaks for itself."
Shane Victorino did much of the damage for the reigning World Series champions, collecting four hits. Victorino got the scoring started with a solo homer in the first inning, and made it 3-0 with a two-run double in the third. The Cardinals pulled within a run, but in the fifth, Jayson Werth crushed a three-run homer off of Wainwright that made it 7-3.
It was that homer, and that inning, that had Wainwright the most distressed after the game. He was directed to pitch around Ryan Howard to get to Werth, but the right-handed-hitting outfielder made the move backfire.
"I think the game comes down to the Werth at-bat," he said. "Get an out there, you probably win the game. That inning is definitely the turning point. Our team had battled back. We just scored three. We had the top of the lineup coming up and I've got to get a shutdown there. I just didn't do it."
Wainwright struck out five against two walks, but allowed hits and runs in bunches. He suffered his first loss of the season and allowed his most runs in a game since he was touched for eight by the Brewers on May 12, 2008. Wainwright has allowed seven runs or more five times in his Major League career.
Though Wainwright's overall numbers had been fine before Tuesday, he's rarely been at his best in 2009. Only once in six starts, on April 24 against the Cubs, has he truly pitched at the level he's capable. In other starts, he's issued too many walks, or been too inefficient. On Tuesday it was a different problem but a continuation nonetheless.
"I'm never worried about it because I know I'm going to turn it around," Wainwright said. "If I was questioning my ability or my stuff or my mentality, then I would already be worried. But I know I'm better than I'm pitching. I'm going to be a very good pitcher for this team the rest of the year. I'm just not doing it yet."
The shame of it was that an exemplary offensive effort was wasted. The Cardinals put the wood to Phils starter Brett Myers and a string of relievers, scoring in six of the final seven innings and always giving the impression that the game was at least competitive. The Redbirds just couldn't get a zero when they needed it in the top half of an inning, and more troubling, couldn't prevent three "crooked-number" frames against them.
"We put some runs on the board," said Ryan Ludwick, who hit his seventh home run of the season. "We've had some low-scoring affairs recently, so that was nice. I was talking to [Chris Duncan], and I said it was like a heavyweight battle out there today. That's a pretty [darn] good lineup over there, in my opinion. Pretty stacked. It was kind of blow-for-blow. They came out on top obviously, but I think you can take positives out of it for sure."
St. Louis has lost three straight games for the first time in 2009, and saw its lead in the National League Central drop to 2 1/2 games.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.