ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright was in domination mode Saturday, so much that he felt like he was back in high school.
Wainwright tossed his fifth career shutout, matched a career-high with 12 strikeouts and went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-0 win over Milwaukee.
"I feel right now kind of like it was a high-school (game)," Wainwright said. "I used to be able to hit a little bit, so it's nice to every now and then to put a good swing on a ball. It's pretty fun. That was a fun game."
Wainwright (2-1) recorded at least one strikeout in every inning, reaching double digits for the sixth time in his career. He pounded the strike zone 84 times in 115 pitches.
Wainwright also lowered his career ERA against the Brewers to 1.93, blanking them for the second time. He became the first Cardinals pitcher to throw a shutout and get three hits since John Denny on Sept. 15, 1976, in a 7-0 win over the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
"It's always fun to pitch a complete-game shutout," Wainwright said. "I've done it against the Brewers a couple of times now. I'm don't know what it is about that team. I think they make me focus more because they have some guys that are really dangerous."
Wainwright collected strikeouts on four different pitches: cutter, four-seamer, curveball and sinker.
"That was very impressive," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He didn't really catch any tendencies, either. He was mixing it up well. He was showing them a different look almost every time they walked up there. He was finishing guys different and wasn't relying on one particular pitch."
Wainwright permitted four hits and walked no one. He has yet to issue a base on balls in three starts and 22 innings.
"That's something I say to myself before every game: No free passes," said Wainwright, recalling his thought process from two years ago as he watched games from the dugout while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. "The lessons I learned in 2011 are still sticking with me. I just felt like when I was watching games, I tried to really keep track of the walks and why guys were scoring. It seemed like if you didn't walk anyone, no one hardly ever scored.
"So I've just really been trying to attack guys and not put anybody on base. Even when you get behind in the count 2-1 or 3-1, you can throw good quality pitches in the zone and guys will get themselves out or get a hit. But at least make them earn it."
Wainwright gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the third when his single scored David Freese. In the Cardinals' seven-run sixth, Wainwright led off with an infield single and scored on a two-run single by Matt Holliday that made it 3-0.
Wainwright's RBI single six batters later made it 7-0 as he became the first St. Louis pitcher to collect two hits in an inning since Aug. 6, 2007, when Braden Looper accomplished the feat against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium II.
The Cardinals made two shutout-preserving plays behind Wainwright.
Center fielder Jon Jay ranged back and to his right before making a diving grab of Martin Maldonado's drive in the fifth. Yuniesky Betancourt, the next batter, doubled.
"Hopefully, one day I can look back on all these catches," Jay said. "For now, I'm happy I can contribute."
In the seventh, shortstop Daniel Descalso ranged far to his left, dived and gloved Maldonado's grounder before making a one-hop throw to first on which Allen Craig made a backhanded grab. The play stranded Rickie Weeks, who doubled with one out.
"That's one of the better ones I've seen," Wainwright said. "That was full extension. He gets up, throws it quick and Allen Craig with an amazing (play). That's a weird hop there, and he stayed down on it and did a great job. The defense behind me was amazing."
Descalso said his motivation was helping Wainwright get the shutout. Wainwright pumped his fist after the inning-ending play.
"I was trying to save the shutout," Descalso said. "He was working hard out there and hadn't allowed any runs. With a guy on second base, I'm doing everything I can to keep the ball from going into the outfield. Luckily, I was able to get the out at first, too. He was outstanding. He didn't let them get anything going (and) he had all his pitches working. It's always fun to play behind guys that are working fast, throwing strikes and getting outs."
Wainwright said his second start of the season, last Sunday against San Francisco, was a stepping stone to what occurred Saturday.
"The last game was an important game for me because the first game (April 1 at Arizona), I had some of the best stuff maybe I've ever had in a game," Wainwright said. "Mechanically, I felt fine, but I was jumping a little bit. So the second game, I used that to kind of dial it back and get back to pitching and locating the ball, feeling my body under control. I took that and added some stuff to it today. It's a good mix."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.