It's such a relief to see that St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has shrugged off whatever it was that was ailing him.
Wainwright needed every bit of his skill and every tool in his chest to beat the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. With the Pittsburgh Pirates surging, it was a game that the Redbirds couldn't afford to lose.
As the Bucs beat the Boston Red Sox handily, Wainwright found his club being no-hit with two outs in the sixth inning. He matched Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers zero for zero until his team could scratch out a couple of runs. Then Wainwright made them stand up.
Matt Holliday in the bottom of the seventh hit a towering blast down the left field line that appeared to curve foul by about a foot. But Holliday was able to keep working the at bat and, eventually, earned a walk to get on base. Matt Adams was able to beat an infield defensive shift with a ball that made it into centerfield and Holliday headed for third. When outfielder Carlos Gomez slipped and fell, third base coach Jose Oquendo sent Holliday home where he narrowly beat the tag.
Jhonny Peralta singled to drive home Adams -- and that was all the Cardinals were going to get for the evening.
It was more than enough for Wainwright. The Brewers threatened to rally in the top of the eighth with a lead off single. But the Cardinals turned a double play to kill the threat. After that, Wainwright retired the Milwaukee batsmen in order to seal the victory.
Fiers only allowed three hits over seven innings which accounted for the two St. Louis runs. For his effort he was saddled with the loss. Wainwright allowed seven hits and two walks over nine innings. He struck out seven. The shutout was his third of the year, a career high, and lowered his ERA to 2.45 while his record improved to 19-9 for the season. It's the fourth time Wainwright has reached 19 wins in a season and he'll try to make it the second time he's reached 20 in his next start.
While I am nervous about the fact that the Redbirds managed only three hits in their win and that they've had only 10 safeties over their last 21 innings, I choose to look at the optimistic side: Championship-quality teams find a way to win, one way or another.