Wainwright turns in masterful performance in Cards’ shutout win

Adam Wainwright allowed five hits, walked only one and tied a career high with 12 strikeouts, becoming the first pitcher in the NL with eight wins.

David Kohl/David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

It might be early to start talking about All-Star Game starting pitchers, unless you’re talking about Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

At this point, he’s about as sure to be named the National League starter as the game is to be played in Minneapolis. Even if Mike Matheny wasn’t going to manage the NL, Wainwright would be — and should be — the leading candidate to start.

He turned in another masterful performance Sunday night with eight shutout innings in a 4-0 victory at Cincinnati. Wainwright allowed five hits, walked only one and tied a career high with 12 strikeouts. He also ran his latest scoreless streak to 20 innings — the second time this season he’s reached that mark — while lowering his ERA to 1.67.

The Reds have faced Wainwright twice this season and have yet to score. No Cincinnati player has been more frustrated than rookie leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton, who struck out three times against Wainwright on Sunday night after striking out all four times against him on Opening Day. Hamilton, however, finally did reach base against the 6-foot-7 right-hander with a walk in the third.

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The victory allowed the Cardinals to move a season-high six games over .500 with a nine-game homestand starting Monday, when the New York Yankees come to St. Louis.

3 UP

— Cardinals’ batting average. They’re still not hitting for power, but they’re hitting. Over the past two weeks, the Cardinals’ batting average is .283 and they’re averaging 4.4 runs per game. In their first 38 games, the Cardinals hit .249 and averaged 3.7 runs. The Cardinals have piled up at least 10 hits in six of their past seven games; in the other one, they had nine.

— Kolten Wong. He’s played in seven games since he returned to the majors and has at least one hit in all of them. He provided most of the Cardinals’ early offense against Mike Leake, with a single and a steal of second base in each of his first two at-bats. His third-inning single drove in the Cardinals’ first run. Wong is hitting .370 (10 for 27) since his recall from Memphis.

— Tony Cruz. You couldn’t tell he was getting his first at-bats in 13 days. Cruz singled in his first AB and again in the sixth when he drove in the Cardinals’ second run. Based on Wainwright’s performance, Cruz did OK behind the plate, too. It was the first time he had caught Wainwright since Yadier Molina was on the disabled list last August.

3 DOWN

— Jhonny Peralta. He came into the game 1 for 26 against the Reds this season and did nothing to help that. Three strikeouts, a flyout and a popup dropped his batting average to .032 against Cincinnati. At least the hit was a home run. Defensively, Peralta enjoyed a much better night. He thwarted one of the Reds’ two best chances of scoring when he went behind second base to take away a hit from Todd Frazier that ended the third inning.

— Jon Jay. Back in the lineup after a three-hit game Saturday, Jay was unable to capitalize on his opportunity. He went 0 for 4 and struck out three times. Jay had not started consecutive games since May 3-4.


— Carlos Beltran. He won’t get to see his old teammates when the Yankees visit Busch Stadium on Monday to begin a three-game series. Beltran, on the disabled list with a right elbow injury, stayed in New York for the trip the Yankees started last week. It will be an important day for Beltran, though. He is scheduled to swing the bat at Yankee Stadium and depending on how the session goes, he could decide to have surgery that would sideline him for at least two months.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.