Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina celebrate the 7-1 win over the Giants Saturday night at Busch Stadium. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals began June the same way they played the first two months of the season -- getting dominant starting pitching.
Adam Wainwright followed Shelby Miller to the mound for the Cardinals for the night game of a day-night doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants Saturday and completed a sweep of the two games with a 7-1 victory.
Wainwright pitched his third complete game of the season, scattering nine hits, striking out 10 and not issuing a walk for the seventh time in his 12 starts. The win improved his record to 8-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.33. For the year he has 83 strikeouts and has issued only six walks in 89 innings.
In the afternoon game of the doubleheader, Miller tossed seven shutout innings as the Cardinals cruised to an 8-0 win after scoring seven runs against Matt Cain in the third inning. That raised his record to 6-3 and lowered his ERA to 1.82.
The Cardinals were just the one run away from posting shutouts in both games of a doubleheader for the first time since 1987.
Saturday's pitching performances are really nothing new, as the two wins improved the Cardinals' starters combined record to 32-10 and lowered their combined ERA to 2.44, the best in the majors and the biggest reason the Cardinals are now 37-18, the best record in the major leagues. It was the fifth time this season Miller and Wainwright have posted victories in consecutive games.
The performance of the rotation has included starts from eight different pitchers, thanks to injuries that have put Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and John Gast on the disabled list. Three of the current members of the rotation – Miller, Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha – are rookies.
“I’ve never seen a team bring up so many quality rookies,” Wainwright said. “These guys are all very good pitchers. Guys just keep stepping up.
“The game is won or lost most of the time by the starting pitcher. If a starter goes out there and gives up five runs in the first inning almost all of the time you are going to lose that game. Our guys are taking it very seriously and they’re ready for each game. I’m just trying to follow them.”
Wainwright said at the first of May that critics of the Cardinals’ staff could no longer say it was “only April.” Now they can’t say “it’s only May” either.
“We will no doubt hit some point during the season where our offense is picking us up, but until that happens our job and our mindset is ‘we’re going out there to pitch a great game every day,’” Wainwright said. “We expect to do that. There will be bumps in the road, we know that, but we are not thinking about that. When it happens we will make some adjustments.
“Right now we’ve got a good roll going. These guys are using their talent. They are working hard, and we will stay right there and see where the chips fall at the end of the year.”
Manager Mike Matheny could not have scripted the day any better to give his tired bullpen a rest.
“It starts with the pitching and our starters gave us a great opportunity today and we got some timely hitting,” he said. “I’m real proud of the system and the way the young guys are able to come in and do their part and feel like they can contribute the way they have.
"It’s fun to watch the young guys do it but it has to start really based on the veteran guys leading the way and creating an atmosphere where the young guys can feel like they can do what they normally do and not have the weight of the world on their shoulders.”
Follow @RobRains on Twitter.