Game Report: Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

By Rob Rains

Adam Wainwright has been paying attention to what has been said about how he has pitched to begin this season.

“There’s plenty of people, I don’t know if they want to see me fail or if they’re just kind of ready for me to move along, but it ain’t going to happen,” Wainwright said. “I’m going to be very good and they’re just going to have to deal with their life with me being a good pitcher and being a dominant force out there.”

Making his eighth start of the year on Sunday, Wainwright kept the Cubs scoreless over seven innings, allowing just four hits, and his batterymate Yadier Molina hit two of the Cardinals three homers in the win at Busch Stadium.

“It’s a good outing to build off. I can still get better,” Wainwright said. “It’s certainly a steppingstone.”

It was the first scoreless outing for Wainwright since he shut out Miami on July 16 last year, a span of 22 starts.

“I don’t want to feel over the moon about a seven inning scoreless outing,” Wainwright said. “That’s what I expect to do. I want to get back to the point of expecting to go at least seven scoreless. In my entire career I never left the field thinking, ‘I got through five or I got through six.’

“Mentally if you get into a place where I had started to creep into of being satisfied with mediocrity, man you’re going to be mediocre, and I’m not going to let myself do it.”

Wainwright came into Sunday’s start with a 6.37 ERA and it dropped to 5.31 as he evened his record at 3-3.

“The hardest part about where I was is I wasn’t pitching like I always have,” he said. “All the things I never used to do I was doing.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Molina put the Cardinals in front with a two-run homer in the second and completed the scoring with a homer in the eighth. It was the third time in his career he hit two homers in a game, having done it previously in a game at Milwaukee in 2007 and at Chicago on Aug. 21, 2011 … Matt Carpenter also homered, his first regular-season hit in 29 at-bats against former TCU teammate Jake Arrieta. “He just needed to get that off his back,” said manager Mike Matheny. “I could have given Matt a day but it just didn’t feel right.” … Magneuris Sierra got the start in center field in place of Dexter Fowler and singled in his last at-bat. He now has at least one hit in all six games he has played since coming up from Palm Beach, one shy of tying the franchise record for the longest hitting streak to begin a career. The last player to hit in his first seven games was Bo Hart in 2003.

On the mound: A key for Wainwright was getting out of a jam in the first inning. The Cubs had two runners on with one out when he got Addison Russell to ground out on a 3-1 pitch and then struck out Miguel Montero on a 75-mph pitch. He allowed only three singles over the next six innings and let only one runner reach third base … Only 56 of Wainwright’s 102 pitches were strikes …Trevor Rosenthal retired the Cubs in order in the eighth and Kevin Siegrist did the same in the ninth to close out the first shutout of the Cubs in St. Louis since Sept. 29, 2013.

Key stat:
The Cardinals had hit just two homers off Arrieta in his 14 career starts against them, covering 84 innings, before Molina and Carpenter did it in consecutive innings in the second and third.

Worth noting: The last Cardinals catcher to hit two homers in a game against the Cubs in St. Louis was Hal Smith on May 9, 1959 …. Getting out of the first without allowing a run extended the Cardinals’ streak of not allowing a run in the first inning at home this season. That streak is now at 20 consecutive games … Carpenter did have one hit off Arrieta, in the postseason, making him now a combine 2-for-32 when those at-bats are included…. The crowd of 47,925 was the largest ever for a game in Busch Stadium 3’s history, 43 fans higher than Saturday’s attendance … Jhonny Peralta had a single and walked in four plate appearances Sunday in his first rehab start at Memphis … Marco Gonzales made his first start for the Redbirds since Sept. 6, 2015 and allowed just one run on three hits over seven innings.

Looking ahead:
After a day off on Monday, the Cardinals will play a two-game series against the Boston Red Sox beginning Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. Lance Lynn will start the opener against Eduardo Rodriguez. The Red Sox have played two regular-season series in St. Louis, in 2005 and in 2014.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains