Two outs shy of his second shutout in three starts, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright handed his carefully and dominantly crafted start to the bullpen for safe keeping. What he started, he would not be finishing. Edward Mujica did. With Bryce Harper on second base with his leadoff double and the tying run at the plate, Mujica made good on Wainwright's exception 8 1/3 innings of work. The new Cardinals closer needed only two pitches to get the final two outs of a 2-0 victory Tuesday against Washington at Nationals Park. Wainwright (4-1) allowed five hits and struck out nine. Four of those strikeouts were Nats cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche. Wainwright got him with a curveball for the first out of the ninth inning. The curve was Wainwright's 113th and final pitch of the night before manager Mike Matheny went to the bullpen. The Cardinals' victory means they have won their first series on this road trip, having split the other two. Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran provided the runs during a two-run rally in the fourth inning against Nats lefty Ross Detwiler. The Nationals first threatened to scar Wainwright’s gem when Harper forced what no other hitter had this season. In the first inning, Wainwright zoomed past Pea Ridge Day’s mark of 29 2/3 innings without a walk to open a season, and by the end of the fifth inning Wainwright was six innings shy of tying the club record of 40 consecutive innings without a walk to start a season. Wainwright had faced 133 batters this season and not thrown one four balls. The 134th was Harper. The second-year outfielder had a home run against Wainwright in the playoff game and he singled in his first at-bat Tuesday. After his strikeout in the fourth, Harper stood at four-for-seven against Wainwright in their careers. Wainwright walked him. Hits by Kurt Suzuki and Denard Span had put the inning in motion for Washington, so the Harper walk loaded the bases with two outs. The tying run was at second with cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche at the plate. Wainwright got ahead 0-2 before LaRoche worked the count back even. LaRoche fouled off a fastball to keep the at-bat alive. That’s when Wainwright went to his new toy. The Cardinals’ coaches approached Wainwright this spring about adding another level to his fastball. The Cardinals believed if Wainwright had a fastball that he could throw up in the zone it would keep hitters off his curveball, the only other pitch that starts high in the zone before it drops. They wanted their righty to have something else at the same eye level. That something was the fastball. That something put away LaRoche with the game in the balance. Wainwright fired a 94-mph, chest-level fastball that LaRoche swung under for Wainwright’s eighth strikeout. It left three runners stranded.
Wainwright dazzles in Cards 2-0 win vs. Nats
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Apr 24