Wainwright worked into the eighth inning and homered Wednesday night, helping the Cardinals run their home winning streak to seven with a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s worked seven or more innings in each of his three starts.
“I just think it’s a credit to his mind-set,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s bound and determined to stay out there deep into the game. He just wills himself to keep going.”
Albert Pujols contributed with his bat and glove. He hit an early two-run double, then made a leaping catch at first base in the ninth to prevent Milwaukee from tying it.
Rick Ankiel drew an extraordinary 17-pitch walk, Skip Schumaker gave the Cardinals a second homer from an unlikely source and St. Louis matched its longest home winning streak since 2005 at the old Busch Stadium.
Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, but RBI doubles by J.J. Hardy and pinch-hitter Craig Counsell closed the gap with one out. After Pujols ranged to his right to catch Jason Kendall’s liner, Isringhausen held on for his sixth save by retiring Rickie Weeks on a comebacker.
St. Louis is 7-1 at home this season, losing only on opening day. The Cardinals’ overall 11-4 record is tied with Arizona for the best in the majors.
“Nobody expected anything out of us,” Wainwright said. “We knew we were a good team, but it’s important for us to keep this train rolling and not be satisfied with what we’ve done so far.”
The Brewers have been held to five runs and 11 hits in two games at St. Louis.
“Our team has a lot of heart and a lot of fight,” manager Ned Yost said. “They’ll go through their ups and downs but they’ll always find ways to battle through it and that’s why their so much fun to be around.”
Wainwright (2-1) was picked to start the Cardinals’ opener, although it was rained out, because Chris Carpenter (elbow) and Mark Mulder (shoulder) were on the mend. He retired the first 11 batters in order and allowed one earned run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Wainwright hit his third career homer, connecting for a solo shot off Carlos Villanueva (1-2) for a 3-0 lead in the second. Wainwright also singled and is 4-for-8 with two RBIs this season, and has a .329 career average with nine RBIs in 76 at-bats.
“I feel like I’m going to get a hit every time,” Wainwright said. “I’m sure I’ll start seeing a slew of offspeed pitches here soon, and then we’ll really talk about how I am as a hitter.”
Pujols put St. Louis ahead with his double in the first inning. Ankiel was up next and he battled Villanueva, fouling off 11 pitches—including seven in a row with a full count—before walking.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had an at-bat that took that many pitches,” Villanueva said. “It definitely took a lot out of me.”
Schumaker’s first homer of the season and fourth of his career barely cleared the right-field wall leading off the fifth. It was such a close call, with the ball caroming off an electric sign just above the wall and back onto the field, that Schumaker stopped at second base before getting the go-ahead from the umpires.
Yost and right fielder Corey Hart both protested first-base umpire Dana DeMuth’s decisive home run call, although Yost said after the game that Hart had been confused about the rules, thinking the ball had to land in the stands.
“It was a home run, but for us it was hard to see,” Yost said.
Pujols bruised his left wrist in a tag play at first base after an offline throw Tuesday, but hasn’t missed an inning since. He’s 12-for-32 with three homers during an eight-game hitting streak and is batting .367. … Schumaker is 14-for-32 (.438) after an 0-for-16 start. … Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers’ lineup after a day to refresh his mind from a 3-for-25 slump and was 1-for-4.