Any questions about whether right-hander Adam Wainwright is back can pretty much be scrapped.
Wainwright, who missed all of last season following elbow surgery, rendered the Houston Astros helpless on Tuesday to score his fifth straight victory.
Throwing his second shutout of the season, Wainwright held Houston to five hits, tied a career high with 12 strikeouts and allowed only one walk as the Cardinals cruised to a 7-0 win in the first game of a three-game series.
"Outstanding," said catcher Yadier Molina. "That's the only word I can say about it. Outstanding."
Manager Mike Matheny said, "I don't know what more you could ask from him. There were some times he was challenging with his stuff and there were other times he was throwing pitches you weren't necessarily thinking about.
"He's been pretty impressive here for a while. And I know he likes to take the lead with the staff and say, 'Hey, this is how we're going to do it,' and hope everybody else follows along.
"He thrives on those opportunities to lead by example and do something special."
Wainwright, 12-1 with a 1.58 earned
run average against the Astros in his career, didn't allow the Astros to have
more than one baserunner in any inning until the ninth, when
Even though the Cardinals had a day off on Monday, they had to pitch 11 innings out of the bullpen in a 19-inning game on Sunday.
"I tried to keep (the Astros) off the basepaths," said Wainwright, who had better command of his fastball than in his last start. "For the most part, I was a lot more efficient.
"Sometimes a young team like that is most dangerous when they're behind, so I told myself 'Don't let up. Don't let your focus go. Keep making pitches.' "
C Yadier Molina had three hits, his third successive multi-hit game since missing time with a sore back. "It feels better now," he said. "I try to play and don't think about it."
CF Jon Jay had three hits for the second straight game for the Cardinals, who didn't homer for the fifth consecutive game but had 13 hits. Jay's on-base percentage is a team-high .390, and his average is .310.
1B Allen Craig had three walks for the first time in his career and also extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games. Asked which he would prefer, he said, "I don't know. They're both good."
Craig was hitting fourth
as RF Carlos Beltran rested a sore left hand. "There's not many teams who have
to put their 4-hole hitter down who have the kind of option to put an Allen
Craig in there," said manager Mike Matheny. Beltran, said Matheny, should be
ready to play before the end of the three-game series with
RHP Jake Westbrook, who has pitched well almost all season while compiling a 12-9 record, got a contract extension. Westbrook had a mutual $8.5 million option for next year; the Cardinals picked it up at $8.75 million and added a mutual option for 2014 at $9.5 million with a $1 million buyout.
By the Numbers:
8 - Pinch hits by rookie OF Shane Robinson, who had a double on Tuesday. That total leads the club.
Quote to Note:
"He's got great momentum going right now. We just want to figure out what he needs to do to stay there."
- Manager Mike Matheny on RHP Adam Wainwright, who has won five straight decisions.
1B Lance Berkman (right knee inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 3. He is scheduled to start a rehab assignment at Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 22.
RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.
RHP Chris Carpenter (weak right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. A July 2 bullpen session was canceled. He underwent season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. He did some light tossing from 40 to 60 feet on Aug. 16.
Link to boxscore: St. Louis 7, Houston 0