Game Report: Cardinals 5, Mets 0

It had been a long time since Michael Wacha started for the Cardinals, but it had been a lot longer since he accomplished what he did on Tuesday night against the Mets.

Making his first start since July 6 because of the All-Star break and the altered setup of the rotation, Wacha pitched the first complete game and first shutout of his professional career, allowing only three hits, in the Cardinals’ victory.

Wacha threw a career-high 119 pitches in his first complete game and first shutout since he was a junior at Texas A & M, defeating the University of Kansas on April 13, 2012, two months before he was drafted by the Cardinals.

Tuesday night’s start was the 99th in the major leagues for Wacha and the 117th of his professional career. The closest he had come to a complete game was in his ninth start, when he lost a no-hit bid against the Nationals with two outs in the ninth inning on an infield single by Ryan Zimmerman.

The win left the Cardinals just one game under .500 for the first time since June 3 and pulled them within 4 ½ games of the first-place Brewers, who lost to the Pirates, in the NL Central.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
The Cardinals gave Wacha some early support with one run in the first and three in the second. Matt Carpenter had doubles in both innings, the first two of his four hits in the game, and he scored once and drove in a run … Carpenter has now reached base in 20 consecutive game. It was his 11th career four-hit game and first since May 30, 2016 ... Carpenter’s longest streak of reaching base is 24 consecutive games, which he did twice in 2013 … Paul DeJong led off the second with a double, his fifth consecutive game against the Mets with at least one extra-base hit ….Wacha even chipped in on the offense with an RBI in the second on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice and he singled in the eighth. It was his second RBI of the season and second hit in 29 at-bats. His first hit came on April 8 in his second at-bat of the season.

On the mound:
Wacha had not gone deeper than 6 2/3 innings in any start since June 17 of last season, a streak of 26 consecutive starts … The win was his first in a road game this season; he had been 0-2 with three no-decisions … His last pitch of the game was a 98 mile per hour fastball, striking out Jay Bruce … The only hits Wacha allowed were a first-inning single by Yoenis Cespeds, a sixth-inning double by Michael Conforto and a ninth-inning single by Conforto. He walked one and struck out eight.

Key stat: Bruce was 0-for-4 against Wacha and is now 1-of-28 in his career against Wacha. It’s the most at-bats for any hitter against Wacha with only one hit. Bruce has struck out in 12 of those 28 at-bats.

Worth noting:
Wacha became the second Cardinals’ starter to pitch his first career complete game and shutout this season, joining Carlos Martinez, who did it on June 10 against the Phillies …. The last shutout by a Cardinals pitcher on the road was by Shelby Miller on June 7, 2014 at Toronto … It was the first shutout by a Cardinals pitchers against the Mets in New York since Joel Pineiro on June 23, 2009 and only the second since John Tudor did it twice in 1985 … The Mets were 0-of-7 with runners in scoring position and are now 0-of-18 in the first two games of the series … Outfielder Randal Grichuk, on the disabled list because of a back strain, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double A Springfield on Wednesday night.

Looking ahead
: Mike Leake will get the start on Wednesday night for the Cardinals against the Mets’ Jacob DeGrom.