The Cardinals ended August with a 20-6 record and are 10 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division with 30 games to play. Their magic number has shrunk to 23.
As they finished the sweep of the Washington Nationals on Sunday, right-hander Adam Wainwright took over the major league lead at 16 wins when he worked his 26th consecutive game of six innings or more.
Wainwright, who admittedly was not sharp in throwing 109 pitches in six innings, walked three hitters, including first baseman Adam Dunn and left fielder Josh Willingham in succession in the sixth when the Nationals scored their run. He had walked only one hitter in his previous five starts.
Wainwright will get six or seven
starts the rest of the way, needing four wins to reach the 20-win pedestal. The
first of those will come Friday in
"Of course, (20 wins) is a goal," said Wainwright. "But the better goal is winning. Whether you get the win or your team gets the win, it doesn't matter."
A relief star for the 2006 world champion Cardinals, Wainwright likened the crisp air Sunday to that found at playoff time. "I can't wait to play baseball when it's about 30 degrees colder," he said. "That's when the fun starts."
Cardinals 2, Nationals
1: RHP Adam Wainwright hurled his
13th straight start in which he allowed two runs or fewer and RHPs Kyle McClellan and Ryan Franklin combined for the final nine outs, with
• Rookie CF Colby Rasmus, who hit a 444-foot, three-run homer on Saturday, went from first to third on 1B Albert Pujols' infield single in the fourth inning Sunday to set up the game's first run. Pujols then drove in Rasmus with the second run in the sixth. Manager Tony La Russa said of Rasmus, "He's really got great legs. As he gets more experience, he can be a 30- or 40-bag guy."
• Manager Tony La Russa announced Sunday that rookie RHP Mitchell Boggs, who worked six innings in a win on Saturday, will get another start this coming Saturday in Pittsburgh. "Absolutely," said La Russa, impressed with Boggs' stint in which he walked just one. RHP Kyle Lohse (strained left hamstring) still will be on the disabled list until the next day.
By The Numbers: 10—Number of consecutive non-losing (9-0-1) series for the Cardinals as they moved 10 games ahead of the field in their division.
Quote To Note: "When you only get one at-bat, it's a tough assignment."—Infielder Khalil Greene, after tying a game the Cardinals later won with his first pinch-hit homer. Greene, disabled twice with anxiety issues, has lost his SS job to Brendan Ryan but has contributed off the bench.
• LHP Royce Ring is likely to be
brought up from Class AAA Memphis for the stretch drive, as will C Matt Pagnozzi
and OF Allen Craig. All would have to be added to the 40-man roster and the
Cardinals will be careful with some of their
• LF Matt Holliday has driven in 32 runs in his first 34 games for the Cardinals. More significantly, the Cardinals are 25-9 in those games.
• RHP Ryan Franklin, who hadn't pitched since Wednesday, worked four outs for his 35th save. It was his seventh of longer than one inning.
LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 22. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 27.
RHP Todd Wellemeyer (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 5. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 25, and he might make a minor league rehab appearance before rejoining the Cardinals.
3B Troy Glaus (right shoulder surgery in January 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a minor league rehab assignment July 11. He was shut down in late July because of recurring back pain. He started a new rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 15.