Adam Wainwright's bat, arm leads St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange  |  June 1, 2017 at 6:50 PM
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ST. LOUIS - It was time for Adam Wainwright to adjust.

Has he ever.

The veteran right-hander of the St. Louis Cardinals continued his resurgence from a rough start to his season Thursday by tossing six shutout innings and hitting a two-run homer for the game's only runs in a 2-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium.

In upping his record to 6-3, Wainwright allowed just four hits and two walks, while striking out six in winning his sixth straight decision. He has won four straight starts, permitting only one run in 26 1/3 innings for an 0.34 earned run average with 21 strikeouts.

It's a 180-degree turn from the pitcher who lost his first three starts and failed to finish the sixth inning in six of his first seven outings.

"I'm doing some of the same things I've always done, but I'm doing other things a little differently," Wainwright said. "The last five or six starts, I've been long-tossing, getting my body fully loose before I go out there.

"Earlier in my career, I'd go out there for the first pitch and I was hot, and ready to rock and roll. I could still do that now, but I feel better now when I get an active warmup before I pitch."

The results are not debatable. Wainwright has rediscovered the location with a cutter that he shelved for a start in May, comparing it to a child that he had to put in "timeout" because of misbehavior.

At the same time, he has been able to change speeds on the fastball, getting it as high as 93 mph at times, while finding the touch with his bread-and-butter curve. With everything coming together, hitters have been flummoxed.

Los Angeles (33-22) was the latest opponent to flail and fail against Wainwright. It pushed runners to third base in the second, fourth and fifth innings, but couldn't cash them in.

In the fifth inning, the Dodgers had men at second and third with two outs in the fifth. Cody Bellinger marched to the plate after doubling in the third. Wainwright buried a 1-1 cutter on Bellinger's fists, resulting in a feeble popup to short to end the threat.

"I'm really trying to listen to hitters," Wainwright said. "What are their swings telling me? I'm changing speeds with just about everything I have. Feel is very important, but I'm always looking up at the speeds just to try to keep the hitter off-balance."

Brandon McCarthy (5-2) became the latest pitcher to find out that Wainwright isn't your average out in the ninth spot. With two outs and Paul DeJong at second in the second, McCarthy hung a 2-2 curve.

Wainwright tore into it, ripping it 410 feet to left-center over the Los Angeles bullpen for his second homer of the year and his 10th career homer.

"We'll probably hear about that one for a while," quipped St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. "He's been taking good at-bats for a while. He's had some big hits for us."

McCarthy lasted just four innings and 85 pitches, yielding seven hits and two runs with a walk and six strikeouts. Manager Dave Roberts pulled him because of a blister.

After winning six in a row prior to Wednesday night's 2-1 loss, the Dodgers managed just one run in losing two straight. Their frustrations came to the surface in the ninth inning, directed at plate umpire Marty Foster's interpretation of the strike zone.

Foster rang up Adrian Gonzalez on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be off the outside corner, then ejected him after Chase Utley singled. Pinch hitter Yasmani Grandal fanned one pitch after taking a 2-1 pitch that was ruled a strike even though it looked to be outside.

When Grandal gestured with his bat at where the 2-1 pitch was, Foster pushed the eject button, resulting in another confrontation with various Dodgers and the umpiring crew.

"The funniest thing is, he told Dave he's been calling pitches off the plate all game," Gonzalez said. "So he agreed that they were balls but because he'd been calling them, it's OK to call them."

Between ejections, Seung Hwan Oh recorded the last three outs for his 13th save in 15 chances. The Cardinals crawled back over the .500 mark at 26-25.

NOTES: Los Angeles Thursday placed LHP Adam Liberatore on the 10-day disabled list with left forearm tightness, retroactive to May 31, and recalled LHP Grant Dayton from Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... St. Louis RF Stephen Piscotty Wednesday revealed the reason for his five-day absence from the team: His mom found out that she was diagnosed with ALS. ... The Cardinals promoted RHP Jack Flaherty, considered one of their top pitching prospects in the farm system, from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis. Flaherty is 7-2 with a 1.42 ERA in 10 starts.

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