St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50). Photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI | License Photo
ATLANTA -- A weekend trip to Atlanta proved to be just what the St. Louis Cardinals needed after being swept in an opening three-game series at Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals scored twice after two outs in the eighth inning to take the lead and added five runs in the ninth to complete their first three-game sweep in Atlanta since 1988 with a 12-7 victory on Sunday.
St. Louis, which won despite a shaky start from ace Adam Wainwright, totaled 31 runs in the three victories over the Braves after scoring just seven in the three losses to the Pirates.
"The guys kept going offensively," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We just came off a rough series, so it's good to play better baseball."
Brandon Moss and Matt Carpenter each had three-run homers for the Cardinals as the Braves fell to 0-5 for their worst start since losing the first 10 games of the 1988 season.
The blast by Moss gave him a homer against every team in the majors.
"I knew that I'd never hit a homer here, but I didn't know I hadn't hit one against the Braves," Moss said. "Georgia is home, so this is cool."
Jeremy Hazelbaker had the tying RBI in the eighth inning on a single and then Stephen Piscotty, who also had two hits, delivered the go-ahead run with another single off Jim Johnson (0-1), who had hit Carpenter with a pitch to start the two-out rally.
Then the Cardinals made it a rout with five runs in the ninth inning off Jose Ramirez, who allowed a two-run double by Aledmys Diaz before Carpenter's three-run blast.
Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out pinch hitter Jeff Francoeur with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning and then closed it out in the ninth for his second save despite giving up an unearned run.
Korean rookie Seung-Hwan Oh (1-0) got credit for the victory after pitching a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.
Wainwright, who lost on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, battled control issues in a no-decision this time. The right-hander walked five and allowed five hits, including a three-run homer by Drew Stubbs, while being charged with five runs in five innings.
Wainwright, who missed most of last season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, was happy with the Cardinals' victory, but not his performance as he continued to battle with his command.
"It's very frustrating because my body feels great and my arm feels great," Wainwright said. "I'll keep working. I know that it'll get better. But the fact of the matter is that I'm struggling right now. There is no other way to put it."
Braves rookie reliever Dan Winkler fractured his right elbow on a pitch in the seventh inning, making the Braves loss that much worse.
Winkler, who had Tommy John surgery in 2014, left the bases loaded in the sixth inning with a strikeout and then retired the first two batters in the seventh before hurting himself on a 1-2 pitch to Randal Grichuk.
"That was a (darn) shame," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He was pitching lights out."
The Braves jumped ahead 1-0 before Wainwright could get an out as Markakis followed a single by Erick Aybar with his first of three doubles in the game.
The Cardinals, though, got to Braves starter Williams Perez for four runs in the third inning and it looked like Wainwright had a nice cushion to work with.
Piscotty followed two walks with an RBI single and then Moss picked on a 1-0 changeup to send a long drive to center field for his first homer of the season.
Stubbs, however, tied it with a three-run homer of his own, depositing a flat 3-2 sinker over the center-field fence following a double by Hector Olivera and walk to Tyler Flowers.
The Braves went ahead in the fifth inning as Olivera hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Markakis, who had doubled. The Cardinals, though, got Wainwright off the hook for a loss with a run in the sixth.
Greg Garcia delivered a tying RBI single off reliever Chris Withrow, but the Cardinals left the bases loaded and the Braves went back ahead in the bottom of the inning.
Seth Maness gave up a double to Gordon Beckham, who scored on Markakis' two-base hit off Kevin Secrist.
A bright spot on a dismal day for the Braves was the three doubles by Markakis, which matched his career best.
"He swung the bat good," Gonzalez said. "It's nice to see him get going."
After a long spring training and a six-game road trip to start the season, the Cardinals will be glad to get to St. Louis for Monday's the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I can't wait," Matheny said.
NOTES: The Braves placed CF Ender Inciarte (left hamstring strain) on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and are expect to promote rookie CF Mallex Smith from Triple-A Gwinnett to take his place. Inciarte was hurt running to first base Friday. ... The Braves also made a bullpen change, recalling RHP Chris Withrow from Gwinnett. ... Withrow replaces rookie RHP John Gant, who will be sent down to Triple-A after allowing two homers and four runs in three relief appearances. ... Rookie OF Jeremy Hazelbaker got his second straight start for the Cardinals in place of CF Randal Grichuk. ... Veteran INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, dropped at the end of spring training, was re-signed by the Braves and sent to Gwinnett. ... RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 8.31 ERA) will start the Cardinals' home opener Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers. ... The Braves begin their first road trip with a four-game series against the Nationals in Washington. ... RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will start Monday's opener against the Nationals.