Wainwright's pitching performance was far from stellar, but when the ship got rocked, the former closer was there to stabilize matters. In the first inning, the Pirates loaded the bases and scored on Xavier Nady's base hit. The 1-0 lead did not last long, though, as Wainwright would do the damage himself in the second frame.
Yadier Molina singled to lead off the bottom of the second, and with one out, Aaron Miles hit safely to put two on. The next at-bat brought up Wainwright, who is hitting at a .333 clip on the season. The Cardinals pitcher doubled off the right field wall, missing a home run by two feet, and both runners scored. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the next inning, when Scott Rolen's sacrifice fly brought home Albert Pujols from third. Pujols had singled earlier in the inning and advanced to third on Juan Encarnacion's base knock.
Pittsburgh scored in the top of the fourth when they loaded the bases with three consecutive singles and Jason Bay's sacrifice fly plated Duke. Wainwright struck out Adam LaRoche to end the threat. The fifth inning was a big one for the Cardinals. It started off with David Eckstein's single, and Duncan doubled to the right field gap that pushed Eckstein to third. After Pujols flew out to right and Eckstein was caught trying to tag up and score at the plate, Encarnacion's single allowed Duncan to score. Scott Rolen reached on a base hit and advanced to second on Nady's fielding error, but Duke intentionally walked Molina to load the bases. Then, after an eight-pitch at-bat, Jim Edmonds was walked to bring home another run. Duke left the game and was replaced by reliever Brian Rogers at this point, but Rogers proceeded to give up an RBI single to Miles. Molina was thrown out at home to end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth may have been a one at-bat spectacle, but Duncan's three-run blast put the game away for good. Pinch hitter Ryan Ludwick was hit by a pitch, stole a meaningless base, and Eckstein's bunt single led to Duncan's line drive to right field. The Cardinals held a 9-2 lead at this point.
Tyler Johnson and Russ Springer each secured one out in the top of the sixth after Wainwright went 5.1 innings in the game, giving up two runs and striking out six. He only walked one. The next reliever to come into the game was Todd Wellemeyer, who made his second appearance in a Cardinals' uniform. Wellemeyer allowed no hits in the seventh, but hit one batter. That runner was taken away when he induced LaRoche to hit into a double play. His eighth inning performance was not as good, as he yielded three straight singles to load the bases. He followed that up by getting a pop out and a fly out, but walked in a run to shrink the lead to six runs. He could have escaped the inning but Eckstein's fielding error cut the lead to 9-4, which would be the final score. Kelvin Jimenez had a perfect ninth inning to end the game.
- Chris Duncan is the player of the game, going 2-for-4 with the home run. Yadier Molina's single in the second frame gave him a 14-game hitting streak, and when he earned that hit, he reached the .300 batting average mark. He finished 1-for-3 and his average rests at .295. Molina has really come along. Albert Pujols was 1-for-5, Juan Encarnacion 2-for-4, and Scott Rolen 2-for-3. Aaron Miles quietly went 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and one run. David Eckstein also had a big night (3-for-5). Jim Edmonds was the only starting player (including the pitcher) to not get a hit. Wainwright was 1-for-2 with two RBI.
- Adam Wainwright looked shaky at times but looked like the 2006 Wainwright at others. He's getting better, and that's a good sign. The offense also needs to continue to hit well. I like the look Tony La Russa went with today in the lineup, and obviously it worked. This homestand is important, and the pitching staff may have more help, because the offense is coming around (42 runs scored in their last seven games, an average of six runs a game).
Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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