The St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation is dominating with a consistency not seen by the franchise in nearly 12 years.
That run appears likely to last at least through Thursday night’s series finale against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers with Shelby Miller looking to continue his mastery since being reunited with Yadier Molina.
Adam Wainwright held Milwaukee to seven hits and went the distance in a 2-0 victory Wednesday, helping the Cardinals (84-68) win for the ninth time in 10 home games and preserve their 2 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
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The ace’s 19th victory marked the sixth straight game in which a Cardinals starter allowed one run or fewer over at least five innings – a feat not accomplished by the club since Sept. 23-29, 2002.
Miller (10-9, 3.75 ERA) has been as dominant as any member of the staff, going 2-0 while surrendering one run over 20 innings in his last three outings. He owns a 1.00 ERA with Molina catching him in each of his last four games after he had been 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA in his previous seven starts with the six-time All-Star sidelined.
"Yadi is special. He’s one of a kind," Miller told MLB’s official website after giving up one run in six innings of a 5-4 win over Colorado on Saturday. "… I think we all know that and he’s a key reason to my success. Not only this stretch of good games but just my career."
The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in seven career matchups versus Milwaukee, giving up four runs over 12 innings in two victories this season.
Molina went 11 for 24 while catching him in six of those games against the Brewers.
Milwaukee (79-73) has also benefited from some impressive starting pitching with its rotation posting a 1.86 ERA over the last eight games, though Mike Fiers was shortchanged Wednesday despite allowing three hits in seven innings.
The Cardinals were hitless until Wainwright’s single with two outs in the sixth and didn’t score until the next inning when Matt Holliday came around on Carlos Gomez’s misplay of Matt Adams’ single to snap St. Louis’ 17-inning scoreless drought. Jhonny Peralta’s ensuing hit drove in Adams.
"We were having trouble getting a hit, let alone a run, so we have to pull out all stops and have to be overaggressive there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of third base coach Jose Oquendo’s decision to send Holliday. "When we’re not getting things going, we have to make something happen."
Milwaukee fell 2 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot.
Kyle Lohse (12-9, 3.81) has struggled versus St. Louis since joining the Brewers, going 1-5 with a 6.63 ERA in seven starts against his former club. He completed just four innings in losing each of the last two on Aug. 2 and Sept. 6, allowing 14 total runs.
Lohse bounced back with a solid effort in a 3-2 win over Cincinnati on Friday, allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings before the Brewers walked off with a 3-2 victory.
Molina is 11 for 20 with three home runs and three doubles against him.
Gomez, who has hit .375 over his last 10 games, is 2 for 16 with five strikeouts against Miller.
St. Louis is a league-best 19-5 at home since Aug. 2.