St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright is all smiles after the third out, pitching a complete game and a 5-0 win over the Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 16, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
ST. LOUIS -- On Saturday night, the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their 2006 team that won the World Series after sneaking into the playoffs with an 83-79 record that barely won the National League Central.
The guy who threw the last pitch of that World Series also tossed the last pitch of this game, then hugged his batterymate in a re-enactment of sorts of that late October night a decade ago.
Adam Wainwright tossed the 10th shutout of his career, checking the Miami Marlins on three hits in a 5-0 win at sold-out Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (9-5) carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing a leadoff double to Adeiny Hechavarria, prompting an ovation from the crowd of 44,840. Hechavarria reached third on a groundout, but was stranded there on a comebacker and a groundout.
That was as close as Miami (48-42) came to scoring against Wainwright, who pleaded for a chance to finish what he started and closed the deal with a 1-2-3 ninth, retiring Giancarlo Stanton on his 120th pitch on a grounder to second.
Shortly after Matt Adams gloved Kolten Wong's throw, Wainwright pumped his fists in the air and met catcher Yadier Molina between the mound and home plate for an emotional embrace.
"We were both so excited that we almost did the jump-up-and-down thing," Wainwright grinned. "It was fun to deliver for the boys upstairs."
Prior to the game, St. Louis paraded almost 20 players from the 2006 team, plus manager Tony LaRussa and general manager Walt Jocketty, around the field in a ceremony missing only the Clydesdales that trot around the field before most playoff games.
Wainwright certainly resembled the thoroughbred pitcher he's been for most of the last decade, mixing speeds and spins to keep an opponent leading the National League in batting average under wraps. His first inning strikeout of Stanton, who buckled his knees on a 0-1 curve that dropped over the inside corner, set the game's tone.
"If you miss location on him, he's probably going to hit the ball 600 feet," Wainwright said of Stanton. "He's probably the strongest man in the National League. You have to mix and match with him."
Until Hechavarria's double, there were perhaps two hard-hit balls, although Martin Prado's lineout to third in the first and Christian Yelich's warning-track flyout to right-center in the fourth were routine plays.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny saw all he needed to know from the hitters' reactions to Wainwright's offerings.
"Early in the season, when he was still searching for a feel to his pitches, you saw hitters taking a good pass at his curveball, even when they were missing," Matheny said. "Now, you're seeing a guy with a good feel for all his pitches. You're seeing some confused swings."
Wainwright, who walked two and fanned five in the 22nd complete game of his career, got all the support he needed in a four-run third inning.
Stephen Piscotty laced a two-strike, two-run double down the left field line off Tom Koehler (6-8), scoring Tommy Pham and Aledmys Diaz. Randal Grichuk doubled to right to plate Piscotty, and Matt Adams broke an 0-for-37 slump at home with an RBI single to center.
Jhonny Peralta finished the St. Louis scoring in the fourth with his fifth homer, a 438-foot shot halfway up the bleachers in left-center off reliever Mike Dunn.
Koehler lasted only four innings, allowing seven hits and four runs with three walks and four strikeouts.
The result snapped a four-game winning streak for the Marlins, which remained tied with the New York Mets for the NL's second wild-card spot. The Cardinals (47-43) moved within a game of the Marlins and Mets.
Yelich wasted very little time analyzing this outcome.
"Tomorrow's a new day, man," he said.
NOTES: St. Louis LF Matt Holliday didn't start Saturday night after going 0-for-4 Friday night, dropping his home average to .130 since April 30. He should be back in there Sunday when Miami starts LHP Adam Conley. ... The Marlins' 7-6 win Friday night improved them to 14-4 against NL Central teams, the best winning percentage (.778) of any team against any division. ... Cardinals 1B/OF Brandon Moss (ankle), their top home run hitter with 17, isn't expected to return from his injury until the end of July. He was disabled on July 5.