Wacha bounces back, holds Dodgers at bay

Wacha bounces back, holds Dodgers at bay

LOS ANGELES -- Jhonny Peralta reached base four times and Michael Wacha pitched seven innings as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers, 7-1, on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

Wacha scattered seven hits and allowed just one run on seven hits for his eighth win of the season. He is now tied with Bartolo Colon, Gerrit Cole and Felix Hernandez for the Major League lead in wins.

Dodgers starter Carlos Frias lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs (three earned) while throwing 106 pitches.

"With where we were at tonight, we really couldn't have asked for much more," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I know it wasn't a win and he could've been throwing zeros, but we love the effort he gave tonight."

The Cardinals Nos. 1-4 hitters reached base in 14 of 20 plate appearances and had four RBIs. The Dodgers have have been held to one run or less in three of four games against the Cardinals this year, and St. Louis leads the season series, 3-1.

"That's a good team and this is going to be a tough series. We know that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You take what you can, and right now, we're doing a couple things right. It's nice to see some offense after having a couple down games back home. But we know this is going to be a long, tough series with these guys. It always is."

Heyward's two-run single

Two-out tallies: The Cardinals scored four of their first five runs with two outs, including both runs scored in a third inning that was extended by third baseman Justin Turner's error. St. Louis followed the fielding miscue with three straight singles to take an early lead. Jason Heyward added a two-out, two-run single off Frias to cap the team's three-run fifth.

"I just think it helps seeing a guy in back-to-back starts," Heyward said. "He's got really good stuff, I feel like. We just took what he gave us, didn't try to do too much."

Tired bullpen: Coming off a doubleheader Tuesday and a loss on Wednesday in which the Dodgers used five relievers, Los Angeles needed Frias to go deep into the game. So with runners on the corners and just one out in the fifth, the Dodgers left Frias in the game to hit. He bunted, moving Kiké Hernandez to second base, but the ensuing hitter, Joc Pederson, struck out looking to end the inning.

Wacha escapes jam

Escape artist: Though Wacha became the third National League pitcher to eight wins with his eighth quality start of the season, it wasn't all smooth over his seven innings. He stranded a runner in scoring position in the third, two more in the fifth and wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth while allowing just one run on an Alex Guerrero sacrifice fly.

"That's when you have to make your pitches, because you obviously don't want to give up those runs," Wacha said. "Maybe you bear down a little bit more, but I think the focus definitely increases when guys are in scoring position, for sure." More >

Just missed: Pederson entered the game with a home run in five straight games, and in his first two at-bats, it looked as though the rookie might extend the streak. Heyward made a leaping catch on the warning track in the first inning and Pederson launched a shot that clanged off the wall in left-center for a double in the third for his lone hit of the night. More >

"Carlos kept us in the game and Danny [Coulombe] was huge for us as far as not having to use anyone else. On a night that you don't win, those two guys are the heroes of the night as far as hopefully getting us back after that Colorado series." -- Mattingly, on resting his bullpen after four games in three days

Wacha improved to 6-0 on the road with the win, making him the first Cardinals pitcher to win his first six road decisions in a season since Chris Carpenter (12-0) and Matt Morris (6-0) in 2005.

Close play at first overturned

In the top of the first, the Cardinals challenged the ruling on the field for an inning-ending double play. Matt Holliday chopped a grounder to second base and was ruled out at first base on the field. After a short review, the call was overturned and Holliday was ruled safe. Frias struck out Mark Reynolds two hitters later to end the inning without damage.

Cardinals: Carlos Martinez will make his second consecutive start against the Dodgers as the Cardinals continue their four-game series at Dodger Stadium with a 9:10 pm CT game on Friday. Martinez pitched seven shutout innings against the Dodgers last weekend and will enter Friday's start riding a scoreless innings streak of 20 1/3.

Dodgers: Brett Anderson takes the mound on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT looking for his first win since May 8. Anderson was solid against the Cardinals last Sunday, allowing two runs in six innings, but he took the loss. However, Anderson is undefeated at home with a 2.89 ERA in five starts at Dodger Stadium.

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Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.