Cards’ Wainwright gets majors-best 13th win
CHICAGO — When St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny visited the mound with two out and two on in the seventh inning on Sunday, he had no idea whether he was going to replace starter Adam Wainwright.
“I was good to go either way,” Matheny said. “I needed to look in his eyes and not hear what he says but see how he says it. I’m kind of watching his mannerisms and then I give him a chance to say what he needs to say.”
Matheny liked what he heard (and saw) and returned to the dugout. Wainwright then got Nate Schierholtz to ground out to complete a strong outing.
The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings and Matt Holliday hit a solo homer to lead the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory and a series win over the Chicago Cubs.
Wainwright (13-5) allowed five hits and walked three during his seven innings to take over the Major League lead in wins. It was a far cry from his previous outing when he allowed six runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays last Tuesday.
“The results usually follow my delivery,” Wainwright said. “When I control my delivery — I told you I was gonna get things under wraps — and get my arm in the right spot, success was following that.
“They hit some balls hard, but we played some great defense and made some pitches when we needed to.”
Matheny had no doubts and said he expected a bounce-back effort before the game.
“I don’t think that’s much of a reach when you’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game,” the manager said. “He’s been so consistent. When you have those days, I guess that’s a reminder of how hard it is to do what he does at the level that he does it.
“It was a big game for us. We needed it to happen and he did everything he could.”
Kevin Siegrist worked the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 36 chances.
Cubs rookie Kyle Hendricks (1-1) allowed just one run on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
“He works quick,” Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of Hendricks. “The groundballs are nice. The double plays are nice. It’s all we can ask from him really, especially two days now where, both games at home, not good days to pitch at Wrigley. He did a really nice job.”
With the wind blowing out to right field, the conditions seemed ideal for a classic Wrigley Field slugfest — a feeling seemingly confirmed when Holliday, the third batter of the game, lifted a drive to center field that landed in the batter’s eye for a solo homer and a 1-0 Cardinals lead.
But that’s where the score stayed as the starters took control.
The only time Hendricks was close to giving up a run after the first inning came after he was lifted in the seventh inning with a runner on first base and one out. Left-hander Wesley Wright loaded the bases with two out, but got Wainwright to line out softly to first base.
Even though a base hit would have broken the game open, Matheny never considered pinch hitting with Wainwright having only thrown 83 pitches to that point.
“It’s all about pitching at that point,” he said. “We’re having a hard time getting something going offensively and we can roll the dice — we have a live bullpen — but we’ve got one of the best pitchers in the league on the mound. To me, especially with what his pitch count was, I want him going back on the mound.”
When asked how long the list is of pitchers he let hit there, Matheny said: “Very short. Maybe one on that list.”
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles