Wainwright, Molina make history, then lead Cardinals over Brewers

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ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina made history with the first pitch of the game, then the record-setting battery helped the St. Louis Cardinals extend their NL Central lead by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 Wednesday night.

Wainwright and Molina started together for the 325th time, the most ever by a pitcher-catcher duo in the majors. The duo eclipsed the regular-season mark of 324 held by the Detroit Tigers pair of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan from 1963-1975.

Wainwright and Molina received a standing ovation from the crowd at Busch Stadium as they walked from the bullpen to the dugout prior to the game.

Towels with the No. 325 were given out to fans as they entered the ballpark.

Wainwright opened the game with a first-pitch strike to Christian Yelich, who out of respect for the moment, made no attempt to swing at the offering.

Wainwright and Molina made their first start together on April 6, 2007, in Houston. Wainwright recorded a 4-2 win in that game — the first of his 213 victories with Molina behind the plate.

The 40-year-old Molina, a perennial Glove Glover, has indicated he will retire at the end of this season. The 41-year-old Wainwright has yet to make a decision on his future.

Wainwright (11-9) gave up just one run in five innings despite allowed eight hits and walked two. He struck out three and walked two in a 98-pitch stint.

Molina gave him a boost, throwing out Kolten Wong attempting to steal on the back end of a strikeout to end the third. Wainwright fanned Andrew McCutchen with a 74 mph curve and Molina still got Wong by plenty.

Molina put the Cardinals ahead for good with a tiebreaking single in the second.

Nolan Arenado and Lars Nootbaar both homered for the Cardinals, who have won three of four. They stretched their division lead to eight games over the second-place Brewers.

Milwaukee had a three-game winning streak snapped and remains two games behind San Diego in the race for the final wild-card spot in the NL.

Wainwright has thrown 2,141 of his 2,553 innings to Molina. He and Molina have teamed up to record 1,815 strikeouts.

Molina snapped a 1-all tie with an RBI single in the second.

Arenado hit his 29th homer in the second off Corbin Burnes (10-7).

Burnes gave up three runs on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Nootbaar pushed the lead to 3-1 with his 12th homer in the fifth.

Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in the eighth. He remains at 697 career home runs, fourth on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds (755), Hank Aaron (714) and Babe Ruth (715).

Pujols was hit on the right shoulder by a Burnes pitch in the sixth, but remained in the contest.

Ryan Helsley picked up his 17th save in 21 opportunities.

Yelich had two hits for the Brewers, who spent 92 days in first place in the NL Central earlier in this season.

ANOTHER GREAT ONE

NHL hockey great Wayne Gretzky was seated in the front row at the game. Gretzky played 18 games for the St. Louis Blues in 1995-96 and maintains a home in the area.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Matt Bush is listed as day-to-day after being removed in the first inning of Tuesday’s game with right groin discomfort. He threw only 15 pitches. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell indicated that Bush will not be going on the injured list.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (6-9, 4.61) will face New York Yankees RHP Frankie Montas (5-12, 3.89) in the first of a three-game series on Friday in Milwaukee. Houser has just six quality starts in 18 starts this season. The Brewers are 7-11 in games his has started.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (11-11, 3.42) takes on Cincinnati RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 9.00) in the first of a five-game set on Thursday in St. Louis. Mikolas is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA in 15 appearances against the Reds.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.