The defensive problems the St. Louis Cardinals’ experienced Wednesday and Thursday against Kansas City and Friday against Milwaukee were nowhere to be found Saturday.
St. Louis turned four double plays, three behind Adam Wainwright, and was charged with no errors in a 3-0 victory over the Brewers at rainy Busch Stadium. Milwaukee is 0-12-1 in the last 13 series against the Cardinals dating to April 2014.
Wainwright (7-5) worked seven scoreless innings and the Cardinals scored all of their runs in the fourth on Kolten Wong’s two-run triple and Greg Garcia’s squeeze bunt against Jimmy Nelson (5-7). Wainwright has thrown 17 straight scoreless innings at home.
“We played good today,” said Wainwright, who walked two, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 4.70 from 5.04. “They have a tough lineup over there. Our guys made plays when they needed to and swung the bats when they needed to. It was a good team win.
“My stuff was very mediocre, but I tried to mix and match, cut it and sink it and curve it. At times, I didn’t have the best location, but it was always moving somewhere.”
Wainwright allowed one hit in all seven of his innings.
The Cardinals committed seven errors in the first three games of the homestand, losing twice to Kansas City before pummeling Milwaukee 7-1 on Friday.
As was the case Friday, it was the infield that did the majority of the dirty work Saturday, turning critical double plays in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings.
A pitcher’s best friend. No doubt about it. A lot of those double plays were in spots where the next guy up (was) the tying run. They’ve got big power on that team over there, so you’ve got to keep the ball on the ground. Our guys made the plays.
Adam Wainwright on the four double plays turned Saturday by the St. Louis Cardinals
“A pitcher’s best friend. No doubt about it,” said Wainwright, who started the fifth-inning double play off the bat of Jonathan Lucroy. “A lot of those double plays were in spots where the next guy up (was) the tying run. They’ve got big power on that team over there, so you’ve got to keep the ball on the ground. Our guys made the plays.”
For the second consecutive game, the Cardinals recorded just one outfield putout, a sensational running catch by center fielder Tommy Pham in the sixth that took extra bases away from Chris Carter.
“Just good plays all the way around,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, singling out Pham, second baseman Wong (five assists), third baseman Greg Garcia (four assists) and first baseman Brandon Moss (13 putouts). “Being able to trust your defense ... is one of those confidence-boosters for our pitching staff. They don’t have to be perfect.”
Wainwright said if the Cardinals (42-38) tighten up the defense and continue to get clutch hitting, the second half of the season could be much different than the first. St. Louis knows it must pick up the pace at home, where it is just 17-23.
“We’ve played two good games of execution,” Wainwright said. “We’ve caught the ball and thrown it, and we’ve had the timely hits when we needed to. When you catch the ball and have the timely hits, you’re going to have a good chance to win games.”
Oh is sharp
Putting the finishing touches on the victory was a dominant save by 33-year-old rookie Seung Hwan Oh, who needed 13 pitches to retire the Brewers in order in the ninth, including strikeouts against Lucroy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. It was Oh’s first save since the Cardinals demoted Trevor Rosenthal from his closer’s role.
“More than the save, I’m glad I could contribute to the team winning,” Oh said through translator Eugene Koo. “’Happy’ is one word I would use to describe the feeling.
“The approach itself wasn’t so much different. Whether it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth, my approach is pretty much to get the hitter out. It does feel kind of special, that ending-the-game feeling and the high-fives with Yadi (Molina), the coaching staff and my teammates. Also, the fans. We can enjoy the moment with the fans. That also feels very special.”
He’s got great stuff. His stuff plays anywhere. He’s got that deceptive delivery and good stuff to go with it. He’s obviously not scared of any situation. He’s got that look on his face where he’s been there and done that.
Adam Wainwright on Seung Hwan Oh, who registered his first major-league save Saturday
Oh has plenty of closing experience, posting 357 combined saves in the Korean and Japanese leagues. He gave every indication that he’s a pitcher the Cardinals can trust in the ninth.
“He’s got great stuff. His stuff plays anywhere,” Wainwright said. “He’s got that deceptive delivery and good stuff to go with it. He’s obviously not scared of any situation. He’s got that look on his face where he’s been there and done that.”
Matheny trusts Oh, who is 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 41 innings.
“He’s thrown the ball well all season,” Matheny said. “He’s continuing to impress us and the rest of the league has obviously seen that this guy’s for real.”
Cardinals 3, Brewers 0
Adam Wainwright threw seven shutout innings and Kolten Wong had a two-run triple in a three-run fourth to give St. Louis its second consecutive win.
By the numbers
Wainwright has thrown 17 straight scoreless innings at Busch Stadium. ... Yadier Molina had his 1,500th career hit, becoming the 34th catcher in major-league history to accomplish the feat. ... Seung Hwan Oh recorded his first save at the big-league level. ... St. Louis turned four double plays, matching a season-high. ... The Cardinals improved to 17-23 at home.
Michael Wacha (4-7, 4.42 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (4-8, 5.45 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Sunday