Wainwright looks to continue his stellar pitching against the Brewers and earn his major league-leading 18th win Wednesday when the surging Cardinals try to complete a three-game sweep at Miller Park.
The Cardinals (83-57) are cruising to their fourth NL Central title in six years with an 11 1/2-game lead on Chicago, and the biggest reason why - outside of another potential MVP season from Albert Pujols(notes) - is an outstanding rotation featuring Chris Carpenter(notes), Wainwright (17-7, 2.68 ERA) and Joel Pineiro(notes) as the top three.
That trio is 28-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 38 starts since July 1, with St. Louis going 33-5 in those outings.
Wainwright’s stiffest competition for the Cy Young figures to come from Carpenter (16-3, 2.16), who threw a one-hitter to win his 11th straight decision in a 3-0 victory Monday in the opener of this series.
Wainwright ranks second in the NL in innings pitched (198), fourth in ERA and fifth in strikeouts (169). He had allowed two runs or less in 13 straight starts before a rare hiccup in his last outing Friday, when he was reached for six runs - all in the fifth - and nine hits over five innings in the Cardinals’ 14-7 win at Pittsburgh.
The six runs the right-hander allowed in that inning were as many as he allowed in both of the entire months of July and August - when he made six starts each month, going 4-1 each time.
“I didn’t execute my pitches that inning is really all it comes down to,” Wainwright said. “And the team is my saving grace. Right now if it wasn’t for my team scoring eight runs for me, I would be hard to talk to.”
In three starts this season against Milwaukee (66-72), Wainwright is 2-1 with a 0.77 ERA while allowing 14 hits in 23 1- 3 innings. He was excellent in the loss at Busch Stadium on May 16 but was outdueled by Jeff Suppan(notes), his mound opponent Wednesday.
“I’ve had some good at-bats against him,” Holliday said. “Anytime against the greatest closer of all time, it’s a special home run.”
Since the Cardinals acquired Holliday on July 24, they have the majors’ best record at 31-11.
Albert Pujols added his major league-leading 45th home run for St. Louis, which has won 12 series and split one since losing consecutive games at Philadelphia from July 25-26.
“I think our club just refused to get down or frustrated,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “I would pass out roses to everybody on the roster. It isn’t the first time we’ve done that this season.”
Suppan (6-8, 4.97) faced San Francisco on Friday in his third start off the disabled list and gave up two unearned runs, two hits and four walks over 5 2-3 innings before leaving without a decision in the Brewers’ 3-2 loss.
Suppan, who pitched for St. Louis from 2004-06, is 7-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 14 starts against his former team.