Wainwright tosses gem vs. Brewers
Righty strikes out nine over 8 1/3 in dominant performance
MILWAUKEE -- Heading into Tuesday, Adam Wainwright had pitched brilliantly against the Brewers this season, holding them to just one run both times he faced them.
Somehow Wainwright managed to lose one of those one-run outings, so Tuesday night he decided to one-up himself, tossing 8 1/3 scoreless innings as the Cardinals beat the Brewers, 5-0, at Miller Park.
"My stuff is good right now, there's no question," Wainwright said. "The main thing is locating your fastball. When you're doing that, everything works off of it."
Wainwright said he wants to continue to get better each time he steps out to the mound, however, he would be hard pressed to have a better pitching performance than the one he had Tuesday. He allowed just seven hits -- none between the fifth and eighth innings -- and struck out nine.
The 27-year-old right-hander came within two outs of what would have been his first career complete-game shutout -- and third complete game -- of his career, but couldn't finish it off as he gave up two hits while pitching to the inning's first three batters.
"He minimizes how much he throws, which is a good sign. He doesn't put max effort into everything," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of letting Wainwright throw 121 pitches. "But there at the end, he's already thrown 120 and [he's] in a stressful situation and even though it wasn't a save situation, I thought it was time to get him."
Although it would have been nice for Wainwright to pick up his first career shutout, it wasn't needed Tuesday.
The Cardinals got to Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo early on. With one out in the first, Colby Rasmus singled and Albert Pujols drew a walk, putting two on for Ryan Ludwick, who hit his 12th home run of the year to right-center field.
St. Louis got down to the eighth spot in the lineup in the opening frame -- forcing Gallardo (8-6) to throw 37 pitches -- but was unable to tack on any more runs that inning.
Rasmus drove in the other two runs for the Cardinals with a solo home run in the fifth inning and an RBI double in the sixth, as St. Louis (46-39) moved two games ahead of Milwaukee (43-40) in the NL Central.
"It's a win. It's the way to start it," La Russa said of picking up the series-opening win. "Come [Wednesday], we'll see what we'll do with it, but that's what we all try to do is get that first win."
Tuesday was the third time Wainwright has faced the Brewers this season, and he improved to 2-1 against Milwaukee, which has battled St. Louis all season for first place in the division.
Wainwright was the hard-luck loser in his first outing against the Brewers, when he fell, 1-0, on May 16, despite holding Milwaukee to one run on two hits over eight innings.
Two starts later on May 26, Wainwright again faced the Brewers, once again allowing one run and striking out nine, but this time earning the win.
In 23 1/3 innings this season, Wainwright has held the Brewers to two runs on 14 hits and struck out 25. Aside from those stats, Brewers manager Ken Macha saw a long day coming for his team. After the Brewers arrived in Chicago last week, he watched Wainwright dominate the Giants from his hotel room.
"I knew the guy was hot coming into the game," Macha said.
On Tuesday, Wainwright was the hottest he's been all season, and he said if he can take the stuff he had on Tuesday night out to the mound the rest of the season, he'd be more than satisfied.
"No question. I feel really good, my arm feels good and my mechanics feel repeatable," Wainwright said. "If your arm feels good and you're repeating your mechanics -- there's little things that you can always do better -- but if I can bring that game out there, I'd take my chances with that."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.