Adam Wainwright loses no-hitter in eighth inning, settles for shutout

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UPDATE: While Adam Wainwright lost the no-hitter in the eighth inning, he settled for a two-hit shutout as part of a 3-0 victory over the Rockies.

Wainwright allowed two hits and one walk while striking out seven. It was the sixth shutout of his career and his 12th complete game. The 31-year-old right-hander now has an excellent 2.30 ERA and 55/4 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings over eight starts this season.

Jamie Garcia will be on the hill tomorrow as the Cardinals try for the sweep. Shelby Miller and Wainwright have set the bar pretty high.

4:30 PM: Adam Wainwright’s no-hit bid is over.

After Matt Carpenter made an excellent diving play to rob Todd Helton of a hit for the first out in the top of the eighth inning, Nolan Arenado dumped a clean single into left-center field. It ended an 0-for-50 streak for the Rockies dating back to Eric Young, Jr’s leadoff single in the first inning last night.

4:13 PM ET: After Shelby Miller sat down the final 27 batters he faced following a leadoff single last night, his teammate Adam Wainwright is working on some history against the Rockies.

Wainwright hasn’t allowed a hit over his first seven innings this afternoon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals currently hold a 2-0 lead.

Wainwright retired the first 13 batters he faced until Todd Helton drew a walk with one out in the fifth inning. In fact, it was the Rockies’ first baserunner in 40 plate appearances dating back to last night. But that’s all they have been able to muster so far this afternoon. Wainwright has seven strikeouts and has thrown 68 out of 92 pitches for strikes.

Wainwright is due to face Todd Helton, Nolan Arenado and Reid Brignac in the top of the eighth inning. Stay tuned to see if he can finish the job.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.