The Cardinals were without closer Edward Mujica last night due to a nagging back issue, but Adam Wainwright rendered that moot by tossing his major league-leading fifth complete game in a 3-1 win over the Braves at Busch Stadium. He now leads the National League with 15 victories.
Wainwright held the Braves to six singles and no walks while striking out nine batters. The Cardinals’ ace needed 128 pitches to finish off the win, which is the second-highest pitch total of his career. Matt Holliday put St. Louis ahead with a solo homer off Kris Medlen in the sixth inning, but Wainwright provided some extra insurance with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The man really does it all. The Braves have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 20-21.
While Wainwright had some ups and downs in his return from Tommy John surgery last year, he has returned to form as one of the National League’s best pitchers this season, posting a 2.58 ERA and 182/25 K/BB ratio over 198 2/3 innings. His 1.1 BB/9 is the lowest among qualified starting pitchers since Roy Halladay in 2010. If it wasn’t for the other-worldly success of Clayton Kershaw, he’d be right there for the National League Cy Young Award.