ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright's confidence in the St. Louis Cardinals hasn't wavered.
After throwing his fourth career shutout and his second this season Tuesday in a 7-0 win over the Houston Astros, Wainwright envisioned another strong finish for the Cardinals, who caught fire about the same time last year en route to their 11th World Championship.
"You've got Pittsburgh and Cincinnati who are both ahead of us," Wainwright said. "Both are within striking distance, really.
"If we go out there and play our style of baseball and execute like we should at the plate and on the mound, I think we're going to be there. I really do. I don't think you can keep us out of the playoffs if we play our brand of baseball."
The Cardinals (66-56) trail first-place Cincinnati (75-49) by eight games. They were one game behind Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot, pending the result of the Pirates' last game in San Diego.
Wainwright (12-10) dominated the Astros, allowing just five hits and matching a career-high with 12 strikeouts. He is 12-1 in his career against Houston, never allowing more than three runs.
"I wanted to keep those goose eggs up there," Wainwright said. "I've told you earlier, a starter's job is to start the game and try to finish the game. That's always my intention. When I start the game, I have every intention of throwing the last pitch of the game as well."
Second baseman Skip Schumaker, who had a two-run single in the Cardinals' four-run, six-hit first against Lucas Harrell (10-9), said Wainwright's return to 100 percent after Tommy John surgery bodes well for the team.
"He was as dominant as you can get," Schumaker said. "I'm excited for him and I'm excited for us. We need that ace; he's our ace."
Former Cardinal Tyler Greene, traded to Houston on Aug. 9, received lukewarm applause when he batted for the first time in the third inning.
Greene, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, is batting .324 (11-for-34) with two home runs and four RBIs in 10 games with the Astros. He has struck out 12 times.
"It's been an opportunity to play the game, get out there and get four or five at-bats every day," Greene said of being with the Astros. "Consistent playing time, that's been a big breath of fresh air to me. I'm just excited about the new start."
Greene's performance never met the Cardinals' expectations. He was the second-base starter as the season opened, but couldn't capitalize on the chance and batted .218 in 77 games.
"I played hard here," Greene said. "I felt like I played the game the right way. I was a good teammate in the clubhouse and I enjoyed my time here. This was all that I knew. It has been an experience to see what (happens) on the other side.
"I've grown up with these guys over there (the Cardinals). They've been my teammates for years. I've enjoyed the time that I had with them. I wish everybody the best of luck."
The Cardinals wish the same for Greene, 29.
"When Tyler left, we were all very clear with him that we wished the best for him and his future," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Obviously, we've got a job to do. The job is to get him out. But he's a talented player. I hope things click for him.
"Am I surprised (he's doing well)? No. He's a talented player."
Beltran's hand sore
Right fielder Carlos Beltran did not play Tuesday because of discomfort in his left hand.
"It's been bothering him for a little bit," Matheny said. "It's pretty sore. Guys' hands are getting beat up all the time. Sometimes, it's a check swing. Things just add up."
Matheny said Beltran could return Wednesday.
Miller's big game
Top pitching prospect Shelby Miller walked none and struck out 12 in seven innings against Iowa on Tuesday, but suffered a 2-0 loss when he allowed Jeff Frazier's two-run homer in the seventh.
Miller is 9-10 with a 5.04 ERA in 25 starts.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak would not disclose whether Miller, a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, would join the Cardinals in September when roster can expand to 40 players.
"I hate to get into specifics about potentially what we may or may not do on an individual, but I would recognize that he's pitched extremely well," Mozeliak said. "He had another very strong outing (Tuesday) and that's great to see.
"How that plays into our decisions for September call-ups, it will factor into it, but ultimately, we have to make sure if we're willing to start the clock on somebody, are we going to use them or not? That's always the question you have to ask yourself."
First baseman Lance Berkman rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis will not begin Wednesday as Berkman said last week.
"I guess he was wrong," Mozeliak said.
"I believe we're going to try to get him out by Friday, but that is not 100 percent definitive."