Wainwright evened his record at 5-5 with a performance as masterful as some of those in his heroic postseason run last year as the Cardinals' closer. Holding his delivery in check and brandishing a wicked curveball when he needed it, Wainwright no-hit the Royals for 5 2/3 innings until Esteban German singled, and he gave up just that one hit through eight innings as the Cardinals won 7-3.
Wainwright became the first Cardinals pitcher to work eight innings all season and blithely said he had been thinking about a no-hitter as early as the third inning.
"When you're used to giving up two hits an inning, you notice something like that pretty soon," he said. "I just thought about it as much as possible."
Pujols swatted a run-scoring single in the first inning, and he and Juan Encarnacion, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, both had two-run singles in a five-run second against Royals lefty Odalis Perez.
But given Pujols' track record against Perez and in Kauffman, this result should have come as no great surprise.
Pujols is 13-for-19 (.684) with five homers in his career against Perez, not counting a playoff homer in 2004 when Perez pitched for Los Angeles.
"I don't think about that," Pujols said. "I don't go by the number. If you get caught up in those numbers, I think you take things for granted."
But here's a number. Pujols is a career .398 hitter at Kauffman, a significant statistic in that it represents more than 120 at-bats.
CARDINALS 7, ROYALS 3: Adam Wainwright faced only 28 hitters over eight scoreless innings, and the Cardinals evened their three-game intrastate series at a win apiece. Catcher Gary Bennett had three hits and guided Wainwright without being shaken off, and the Cardinals had the game well in hand before left-hander Tyler Johnson surrendered a three-run homer in the ninth inning to Royals third baseman Alex Gordon.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--SS David Eckstein, hitting .457 in his last 21 games, was felled again by back issues Wednesday night and will visit a chiropractor Thursday morning to try to alleviate the problem.
Eckstein, who missed five games last month with lower back problems, came out of Wednesday's game in the fourth inning after getting two hits. Manager Tony La Russa said, "He'd take a step and his back goes out of whack. It gets a little uneven. When that happens, it affects his leg and it affects his back, so he's going to get an adjustment and we'll see how he is."
--RHP Troy Percival walked three and allowed one hit and one run in two-thirds of an inning Wednesday night in his debut with Class AAA Memphis. Nashville, the opponent, tried to steal three bases during that time and succeeded on two.
--RHP Anthony Reyes, perhaps on a fast track back to the Cardinals' rotation, gave up only one run and four hits over eight innings Tuesday in a 2-1 win for Class AAA Memphis over Nashville. In three starts since being sent back after an 0-8 start for the Cardinals, Reyes has given up only four runs in 22 innings, fanning 16 and walking only three. His ERA is 1.64. "We're paying a lot of attention to him," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
--LF Chris Duncan, who is 2-for-37, sat out Wednesday night's start. He has dropped from .294 to .247 and has fanned 17 times in those 37 at-bats.
--The Cardinals are 21-17 in games in which OF So Taguchi gets at least one at-bat and 7-17 when he doesn't. "Yeah, I noticed that," manager Tony La Russa said. "Every night he does something." Taguchi is 4-for-13 as a pinch hitter, and his on-base percentage of .354 ranks behind only those of 1B Albert Pujols (.388) and SS David Eckstein (.357).