ST. LOUIS – With Adam Wainwright on the mound for St. Louis and Cole Hamels countering for Philadelphia, Saturday’s match up between the Cardinals and Phillies was every bit the pitching duel that should have been expected with two aces facing off against each other.
“I knew coming in today that it was going to be a tough game,” Wainwright said. “Cole Hamels has been pitching really, really well and their team had won I think six games in a row. They are playing great baseball so I knew it was going to be tough.”
Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny knew the game was going to be tight.
“When we bring Adam and put him on the mound,” Matheny said. “And you know you are going face a Hamels who has been throwing the ball well, you just figure it is going to be one of those long fights where you just grind it out and stay the course.”
In the end, the difference in a win and a loss for the two aces was free passes. Wainwright did not allow any walks while Hamels issued five. Of those five free passes, two came around to score as the Cardinals beat the Phillies 4-1 in front of a sold out crowd (44,789) at Busch Stadium.
In the bottom of the eighth, Matt Carpenter walked to start the home half of the frame. Matt Holliday followed with a double to left center that allowed Carpenter to score from first, giving the Redbirds a 2-1 lead.
“That was a great at bat there by Carp to get us going,” Matheny said. “Obviously Holliday got the big hit there. … I think we are getting better with the close games at staying the course. I would much rather have more production, but if we are going to be in those close games, I would like to see us trust ourselves and keep going.”
Hamels was pulled after giving up the lead. He finished the day with eight strikeouts and five walks while allowing five hits. The Cardinals scored two more runs off relief pitcher Jake Diekman.
Diekman hit the first batter he faced, Yadier Molina. Holliday and Molina both moved up 90 feet on a passed ball. Holliday scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jhonny Peralta and Molina scored on Matt Adams’ second sacrifice fly of the day.
The Cardinals (40-35) scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the second.
Molina drew the first of two walks and moved to third on Peralta’s double before scoring on Adams’ first sacrifice fly of the day.
The run scored by Molina ended a streak of 24.2 innings by Hamels of not allowing a run.
After getting the lead, the Redbirds didn’t keep the lead long as Wainwright was unable to get a shutdown inning.
In the top of the third, Philadelphia’s leadoff batter, Cody Asche, singled and moved to third on Hamels single. Asche then scored on Jimmy Rollins sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
“(Hamels) was the reason (Philadelphia) scored the first run,” Wainwright said. “It was a good hit and run play there to get a good first and third with one, two, three coming up with Jimmy Rollins, and (Carlos) Ruiz and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. At that point I decided I have to get outs and (Hamels) was a big reason they scored that first run. He turned that ball into the left center gap on a fastball I thought he was taking. I thought he was going to take the first pitch and he kind of just laid it in there. He surprised me. He is a good hitter.”
That’s the way it stayed until the bottom of the eighth.
“I thought Hamels was very good today,” Matheny said. “Their guy was equally as good, fortunately Adam stayed with it.”
Wainwright (10-3) became the majors’ second 10 game winner as he pitched eight innings before giving way to closer Trevor Rosenthal. Wainwright struck out seven and walked none but did hit a batter while scattering six hits in his first start back after missing one turn in the rotation.
“I varied the speeds on my cutter some,” Wainwright said. “I threw a couple of sliders. I was kind of pushing my two-seamer today a little bit. My four-seamer was fine but my two-seamer was a little more up in the zone than I would like it to be and that was why I ran that ball in on (Carlos) Ruiz by accident and hit him in the hip or the side or the arm or wherever I hit him.”
Of Wainwright’s seven strikeouts, two came in the first inning. The Cardinals’ ace punched out Marlon Byrd three times and Ryan Howard twice. Howard was the final batter Wainwright faced and he caught the Phillies (34-39) first baseman looking to end the top of the eighth.
“I had given (Howard) different looks all game,” Wainwright said. “They have got great veteran players over there. He and Chase Utley are very good at picking up on the little things you do, especially Chase. He is a master at that. I tried to give each of them, in each at bat, different looks. Over my head, big glove, squeezing my glove the next time, that way they just never can key off of something.”
Matheny was surprised how good his pitcher was after missing a start with a sore elbow.
“Unbelievable,” Matheny said. “This guy has been just so good. Taking a little break and coming back as sharp as he is, surprisingly I don’t know why I am surprised. It is just amazing how sharp he is with a little time off. It was like the Adam we have watched all season.”
Of the Phillies’ six hits, two of them were off the bat of Hamels.
St. Louis had five different players with one hit each. Molina walked twice and was hit by a pitch while scoring twice. Adams drove in two runs of the Cardinals’ four runs.
St. Louis will try for the series split on Sunday as Carlos Martinez (0-3) fills in for Michael Wacha against Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick (3-6). First pitch is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
After the game, Matheny announced the rookie second baseman Kolten Wong would be going on the 15 day disabled list because of a left shoulder injury and that Shane Robinson was being recalled from AAA Memphis in his place.
“We are going to DL (Wong) and in the subsequent move we are going to be bringing Shane Robinson back,” Matheny said. “He is really trying to grind through, but since that (injury) happened, you can see that he isn’t able to get a good finish on his swing, so we are going to make a move.”