All Wainwright in Cardinals’ shutout of Brewers
By Bucky Dent The Sports Xchange ST. LOUIS -- With Mike Fiers and Adam Wainwright matching zeroes Wednesday night, it was obvious that one play could make the difference in a game larded with playoff implications. Few would have guessed it would ...
By Bucky Dent
The Sports Xchange
ST. LOUIS - With Mike Fiers and Adam Wainwright matching zeroes Wednesday night, it was obvious that one play could make the difference in a game larded with playoff implications.
Few would have guessed it would be an error by a Gold Glove outfielder that led to a slow-footed runner scoring all the way from first base.
But Carlos Gomez’s fielding error on a one-out single by first baseman Matt Adams in the bottom of the seventh inning allowed left fielder Matt Holliday to chug home with the game’s first run, leading to St. Louis’ critical 2-0 win over Milwaukee at sold-out Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (19-9) scattered seven hits, walked two and whiffed seven in his third shutout and fifth complete game of the year. In tying the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for most wins in the majors, Wainwright threw 77 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
The result enabled the Cardinals (84-68) to maintain a 2 1/2-game lead on second place Pittsburgh in the National League Central. The Brewers (79-73) fell five games back of St. Louis and now trail the Pirates for the NL’s second wild-card spot by 2 1/2 games.
“Adam’s having an exceptional season,” manager Mike Matheny said of his ace. “Other than one inning, he was in complete control.”
So was Fiers (6-3), who didn’t permit a hit until Wainwright singled up the middle with two outs in the sixth. In his first start since beaning Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, Fiers baffled the Cardinals until his last inning.
Holliday worked a walk after narrowly missing a first-pitch homer, hooking the ball foul. Adams grounded the first pitch off the glove of diving second baseman Scooter Gennett, sending Holliday to third.
But Gomez slipped and booted the ball, and third base Jose Oquendo waved Holliday around. Holliday had slowed down but managed to beat the relay throw from shortstop Jean Segura as catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s swipe tag connected with air.
Fiers was forgiving of Gomez.
“That can happen to anyone,” the pitcher said. “He didn’t mean to do it. I’ve just got to pitch through that.”
With his team struggling to generate offense for a second straight game, Matheny knew Oquendo might have to roll the dice.
“We want Jose to be aggressive there,” Matheny said. “Very good job. He sensed that might be our chance. We were having trouble getting a baserunner, let alone stacking hits, against Fiers. So we had to push it.”
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta delivered an RBi single to plate Adams, who made it to second on the error, with an insurance run.
Fiers gave up only three hits and two runs, one earned, while walking one and fanning seven in seven innings.
“I could have done a better job,” he said. “I needed to pitch through the seventh inning and couldn’t do it.”
Milwaukee’s best scoring chance came in the fourth inning, when it loaded the bases with two outs. But Segura, swinging at an 0-1 pitch, lined out to center fielder Peter Bourjos.
Gennett’s leadoff single in the eighth inning was wiped out by Lucroy’s 6-4-3 double play. Wainwright touched 95 mph on the radar gun - about 4 mph faster than his norm - while pitching a clean ninth.
“I’m not saying that’s going to be there every time,” Wainwright said of his sudden increase in velocity. “But this was big for us. We’re trying to get to October. I wanted to shoulder the load.”
NOTES: St. Louis manager Mike Matheny confirmed that RHP John Lackey will pitch Friday night when Cincinnati comes to town for a three-game series. RHP Michael Wacha, whose turn was skipped Sunday, gets the call Saturday evening. ... Milwaukee CF Carlos Gomez (wrist) and 2B Scooter Gennett (hamstring) were in the lineup Wednesday night despite having their injuries iced after Tuesday night’s game. Gomez missed more than a week with the injury he suffered in San Francisco on Aug. 30, and Gennett has been battling his injury the entire second half of the season. ... Cardinals RHP Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless inning in relief Tuesday night, stretching his streak without giving up a run to 12 2/3 innings, dating to Aug. 22.