OAKLAND, CA. - Adam Wainwright once said when a pitcher issues walks, they normally come back to haunt you. Well, Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals used a walk and a hit batsman to take an early lead and go on to beat the Oakland A's 7-1 in front of a sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Cardinals led off the top of the fifth with a walk by Matt Adams who then advanced to second when David Freese was hit by a pitch. Jon Jay laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up 90 feet. A sacrifice fly from Daniel Descalso then flew out to center field, but the ball traveled far enough to allow Adams to score from third.
"It's the little things," Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny said. "We take a lot of pride in Jon Jay getting the bunt down there and then Daniel Descalso right behind him getting the run in."
Now, with two outs, Matt Carpenter singled to center and Freese came all the way around to score, just beating out an attempted tag play by a diving Derek Norris at the plate.
Once the Cardinals took the lead, they continued to add to it.
Beltran opened the sixth with a double down the right field line that was just barely fair. Beltran went to third when Allen Craig singled past a diving Eric Sogard at second. That brought Matt Holliday to the plate with runners on the corners and no outs.
That prompted the A's to make a pitching change and Oakland manager Bob Melvin brought in Jerry Blevins, the last remaining player on the A's whom Holliday was a teammate with in 2009.
Holliday wasted no time adding to the lead as he singled to center on Blevins' second offering to drive in Beltran. The very next pitch Adams crushed a ball over the right field fence for a three-run home run and a 6-0 lead for St. Louis.
"It was a big situation there with runners at first and third and nobody out," Adams said. "I was just trying to get a pitch elevated and being able to move the runners in scoring position. He left the ball up and I put the barrel on it."
Adams picked up his fourth RBI of the game in the top of the eighth inning when he crushed a pitch to right field for his second homer of the game. Adams now has six home runs and 20 RBIs on the season.
"It was a big day for Matt," Matheny said. "Especially in there against a left hander. He has got some different power. It is a lofting power that you don't see every day. He has a nice approach and he has a real nice idea at the plate."
Adams, who finished the day 2-for-3, took his skipper's compliment in stride.
"I just use my size and leverage," Adams said. "I don't swing too hard. I get in trouble if I try to over swing so I just try to stay short and compact and try to get good wood on it."
The two-homer game was an MLB first for the Cardinals' first baseman.
"It feels good," Adams said of his first multi-homer game. "Especially in an atmosphere like this."
Every Cardinals hitter recorded at least one hit on the day with the exception of Freese. However, Freese did reach via a hit by pitch and came around to score. Adams and Craig both had multiple hits for St. Louis.
Matheny was pleased with his ace's performance.
"He had everything," Matheny said. "Right from the top he had his curveball established and you saw some good pitches late in the count with his fastball. He threw some good changeups, but mainly he was locating the fastball and using the curveball."
One night after having to use the bullpen for 8.1 innings, Wainwright gave the pen plenty of rest as he went the distance for his fourth complete game of the season and the 15th of his career.
"I think every starter's goal is, if you start the game, you want to throw the last pitch," Wainwright said. "Luckily I was able to get ahead and get some quick innings. I kept my count down against a team that traditionally what they are trying to do is get that pitch count up early and get in the bullpen."
When Wainwright worked his way out of trouble in the eighth, Matheny knew he was going to send Wainwright back out for the ninth.
"Once he got out of that, we had to give him a chance to go back out there," Matheny said. "Those are special when you are able to throw a complete game. Especially a day after a starter goes one and two-thirds. That is a big day."
Wainwright threw 112 pitches in earning his 11th win of the year. He struck out seven and scattered five hits.
"I came out very focused and executed my plan for the most part," Wainwright said. "I did have the two late walks that kind of chapped me, but anytime you are going complete in a game like that and give yourself a chance to win, your team a chance to win, that is what you want."
Wainwright (11-5) lost the shutout in the bottom of the eighth when Oakland had a leadoff double from Josh Donaldson. Josh Reddick then followed with a single to plate Donaldson. A ground out and a flyout got Reddick to third. Coco Crisp worked the first of two walks on the day off Wainwright before he struck out Seth Smith to end the frame.
"To Donaldson, it was a matter of execution," Wainwright said. "I had him 0-2 and tried to elevate a fastball and left it a little too Iow. … I just didn't execute and he put a good swing on it."
Wainwright didn't go to a three-ball count until he walked Crisp.