Parlaying an efficient 72 pitches into six innings, Wainwright (7-3) gave up just five hits and one walk, throwing only a bad pitch to pinch hitter Greg Norton, who homered in the fifth.
"That's more than we should have expected, as far as command," said manager Tony La Russa. "It's hard to believe he could have been that sharp with that much time missed."
Wainwright didn't score himself quite as high. "It was all right," he said. "It wasn't fantastic but it was something I could build on, for sure.
"All the credit goes to (the hitters). Anybody could have pitched today."
"We've been on the other side of that, by the way," said La Russa, "and it's very painful."
CARDINALS 18, BRAVES 3: The Cardinals had a season high in runs and hits (26) with an astounding 14 hits in 24 at-bats with men in scoring position.
C Yadier Molina drove in four runs and 1B Albert Pujols, on the fast track to his eighth straight 100-RBI season, had three RBIs.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--In some poetic justice, RHP Joel Pineiro, who was bumped to the bullpen when RHP Adam Wainwright came back to the rotation, gained his first National League save by working the last three innings. "Here's a guy who's 3-0 in August and he didn't get the ball. That's pretty tough," said manager Tony La Russa. "But he handled it really well."
--It seems unlikely that RHP Chris Carpenter will be doing any more starting for the Cardinals before Sept. 1, when rosters can be expanded to as many as 40 players. But Carpenter, who made three starts before being sidelined with a sprained right shoulder, took another step forward by throwing 50 pitches -- some of them breaking balls -- in the bullpen. Carpenter said he felt "fine" after the workout, which he said he increased in intensity from his last one, although he admitted he didn't go full-bore.
Manager Tony La Russa said, "We'll get him ready as soon as we can, but as safe as we can. He'll start when he's ready."
--It's been 12 days since his return from an abdominal muscle strain but erstwhile CF Rick Ankiel still is playing left field and Skip Schumaker center. Tony La Russa said that situation would remain in place for the foreseeable future. "(Ankiel) is still not ready to go 1,000 percent," said La Russa.
--1B Albert Pujols' three hits moved him to .353, six points behind Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones for the National League batting lead.
--The Cardinals' 21 singles were their most in a nine-inning game since 1929. The major league record is 23 singles.
--The 18 runs without a home run were the most by the Cardinals without a home run since at least 1954.