Wainwright keys Cardinals past Dodgers 8-2
By R.B. FALLSTROM
ST. LOUIS (AP) Adam Wainwright tried bragging about his hitting prowess, and broke down laughing in mid-sentence.
It was no surprise that the Cardinals right-hander, working his way back into ace status after reconstructive elbow surgery sidelined him all of 2011, kept pace with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. His stroke on one of the biggest hits of the game was a bit of a shocker.
"It was not a bad pitch, not where he wanted it," Wainwright said. "With a guy like me up there, you've got to make your pitch.
"I can't even say that with a straight face."
Wainwright's first two RBIs of the season helped knock out Kershaw in the sixth inning in a game that began in 103-degree heat as St. Louis ended Los Angeles' five-game winning streak with an 8-2 victory Tuesday night.
Wainwright (8-10) allowed two runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.
He was a career .223 hitter entering the year with five homers and 23 RBIs but was batting .079 (3-for-38) with three singles and 17 strikeouts this season. He felt his stroke returning last game and has been spending extra time in the batting cage.
"A lot of times, what you do at the plate makes a difference in a win or loss," Wainwright said. "There's been several times this season where I didn't come through and we ended up losing by one."
Wainwright doubled to left-center with two outs in the fifth for St. Louis' first run, then scored the tying run on Rafael Furcal's single. After Daniel Descalso was intentionally walked to load the bases in the sixth, Wainwright walked on five pitches to give the Cardinals a two-run lead in a six-run sixth that put them up 8-2.
"If I get Adam Wainwright out today, I probably give up maybe one run the whole game," Kershaw said. "It's just frustrating.
"A lot of things were frustrating. Some two-out hits, some things that definitely could have been avoided by me."
The Cardinals have won four of five.
Kershaw (7-6) gave up eight runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, the second-most runs ever allowed by the 2011 NL Cy Young winner. Kershaw, who entered with a 2.74 ERA that ranked among the NL leaders, gave up a career-worst nine runs in 4 2-3 innings on April 26, 2009 at Colorado.
Kershaw sailed through the first four innings in 51 pitches, then needed 53 against 14 batters to get his last five outs.
"I thought he was throwing the ball good tonight," manager Don Mattingly said. "He had good command, his stuff was good. All of sudden - he just kind of fell apart."
Kershaw allowed two runs in 14 innings the two starts before Tuesday and threw a shutout against the Cardinals in Los Angeles in May. The Dodgers gave him a vote of confidence after Wainwright's walk, leaving him in, but Kershaw lasted just one more hitter before departing after Furcal's two-run infield hit.
Wainwright (8-10) allowed two runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings, in addition to providing two of the biggest at-bats.
Descalso, the lone left-handed bat against Kershaw, had two two-out singles, scored twice and turned a nice double play from second base.
"Sometimes all he needs is two runs," Descalso said. "He's got electric stuff."
Lance Berkman was taken out for a pinch-runner not long after getting hit by a pitch on the right knee, at the exact spot that was surgically repaired in May, in the third inning by a breaking ball. Berkman went to first base after visiting with a trainer, but jogged to second on a single by Descalso and was removed after a chat with third base coach Jose Oquendo.
Berkman believed it was just a bruise, and didn't even count himself out for Wednesday night. He joked to a reporter who asked whether he had avoided structural damage: "As far as you know."
"He basically said `Hey, we need these runs,'" Berkman said. "And I said `Yeah, you're right.' Clayton's on the mound and runs are probably going to be tough to come by.'"
Berkman batted seventh for the first time since 2010 and for just the 18th time in his career, bumped down in the order because David Freese entered 10-for-18 during a six-game streak combined with the fact he's just 4-for-22 with 22 RBIs since coming off the 15-day disabled list to start the second half without a rehab stint following right knee surgery in late May.
"Well, look at the guys who are in front of me," Berkman said. "Hitting right-handed, who do I deserve to hit in front of. Nobody. So seventh was a kind spot for me."
The Dodgers had scored only two runs in 28 2-3 innings against Wainwright in St. Louis before getting two in the fourth. Four straight batters reached safely with one out, and Juan Rivera and Cruz had an RBI apiece.
Wainwright is 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA at home against the Dodgers.
NOTES: A crew of three umpires began the game with Eric Cooper out sick and a replacement en route. There were no issues before John Tumpane arrived in time for the bottom of the third. ... Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.71) is fifth in the NL in ERA entering Wednesday night's matchup against Aaron Harang (7-5, 3.46), who has lost his last four decisions against St. Louis. ... Wainwright threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of 30 hitters. ... The Dodgers' Adam Kennedy tweaked his right groin during the at-bat before hitting a pinch-hit single in the seventh and was day to day.
Updated July 25, 2012