Braves go down against Wainwright, lose 7-1
The Braves were looking for a different kind of streak.
Adam Wainwright would have none of that.
The St. Louis right-hander pitched eight strong innings and helped himself at the plate, outscoring Atlanta all by himself to lead the Cardinals past the Braves 7-1 on Wednesday night.
One night after breaking a seven-game losing streak, their longest in nearly two years, the Braves returned to a familiar pattern. Freddie Freeman's third-inning single drove home the lone run for an offensively challenged team that has scored more than four only once in its last 16 games.
Atlanta went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and was held to one run or fewer for the 13th time this season.
"We thought we had a little momentum after last night, then we run into a brick wall," said Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. "He's tough. It seems like every time you go up there, he throws you something different in a different spot."
Mike Minor (0-2) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, roughed up for 11 hits and six runs in his second start back after starting the season on the disabled list.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Minor had trouble with his breaking pitches. Minor disagreed, saying he got sloppy with the command on his fastball the second time through the order. Whatever the case, the Cardinals seemed to know what was coming.
"I'm sure a lot of people are going to speculate, 'What's wrong with Minor?'" the left-hander said. "It's just my second start up here. One was good. One was not so good."
One thing he definitely wants to work on: keeping the ball in the park. He has given up three homers in 10 1-3 innings.
"It was not a very good performance by the guy on our side, and a really good performance by the guy on their side," Gonzalez said. "That's the result you get."
Matt Holliday drove in three runs and Peter Bourjos homered for the Cardinals.
Wainwright (6-2) bounced back from his worst start of the season, after surrendering 10 hits and six runs to the Chicago Cubs. He had no trouble against the struggling Braves, holding them to six hits and striking out six. He was lifted after throwing 103 pitches.
But that was only part of the story. Wainwright had two hits to raise his average to .400 on the season, and he came around to score both times.
Bourjos hit his first homer of the season with two outs in the second. Wainwright led off the third with a double and came around to score. Holliday blew it open with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.
Minor ran into trouble throughout the Cardinals lineup. Up top, leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter reached base four times on three hits and a walk, scored twice and drove in a run. Holliday had three hits in the third spot, knocking in the final run with a single in the ninth off Luis Avilan.
Further down in the seventh spot, the light-hitting Bourjos had three hits and two RBIs after coming in with a .179 average, including a drive into the seats in left-center for his first career NL homer. Then there was Wainwright, one of the game's best-hitting pitches, doing plenty of damage in the ninth hole.
The Braves went down meekly after their last threat in the sixth, when they failed to take advantage of runners at first and third with one out.
NOTES: RHP David Hale, who lost his spot in the Atlanta rotation when Minor returned from the DL, retired all eight hitters he faced after taking over in the fifth. ... Braves RHP Ervin Santana threw in the bullpen with no problems after missing a start because of an injured thumb. He will start Saturday against the Cubs. ... Gonzalez said he plans to get fourth OF Jordan Schafer more playing time as the weather gets hotter and he starts giving more days off to his starters. ... Both teams are off Thursday. The Cardinals will next play a weekend series at Pittsburgh, while the Braves are hosting the Cubs.