Hit nice, but Waino more pleased with pitches

Hit nice, but Waino more pleased with pitches

PHOENIX -- Adam Wainwright knows that most everyone will want to talk about his bases-loaded triple, the first by a Cardinals pitcher in such a spot since 2005 and the hit that keyed the Cardinals' 11-4 win over the D-backs on Wednesday.

But while he took back with the bat the runs he gave up on the mound, Wainwright's long-term takeaway from his first win of the season came from the pitches he threw, not the one he hit.

"My results didn't match my stuff," Wainwright said after allowing four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. "My stuff was dramatically different and better than it has been. To be honest with you, the starts before, I knew that my stuff was going to be good, but I also knew that it wasn't good. There's a big difference, mentally, to know that your stuff is good when it hasn't been."

It was a sigh of relief for a veteran pitcher who had been groping for his command all month. In danger of losing four consecutive decisions for the second time in his 11-year career, Wainwright found his pitches to be crisper, and he took the bevy of ground balls he induced as an indicator that he had his late life back.

Getting to this point involved plenty of soul searching and a willingness to turn to some of his most trusted advisors. In particular, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, former teammate Chris Carpenter and reliever Jonathan Broxton helped him wade through the mess.

"Plenty of people came to me," Wainwright said. "I only sought out a few people, the ones who have really spoken in my pitching life over the years. There was 'Aha' moments all throughout the whole process. If it wasn't one thing, it was another that I needed to work on as well."

This may all bode well for Wainwright moving forward, but there was no downplaying that his biggest contribution on Wednesday night did come at the plate. The celebrated bunt champion of Cardinals Spring Training, Wainwright showed he can have some success swinging away, too.

With his first triple since 2009, Wainwright flipped the game to his favor and put the Cardinals ahead for good in the sixth inning.

"Honestly, the only thought that came into my mind was, 'This is the game right here,'" Wainwright said afterward.

The hit, Wainwright's first this season, rewarded Cardinals manager Mike Matheny for sticking with him in a spot that could have justified a pinch-hitter. The Cardinals' bullpen had plenty of fresh arms, and Wainwright had already lost an early lead by giving up three runs on two homers.

But he had also just retired six straight, and, with a bench loaded with left-handed hitters, Matheny wasn't keen on any other matchup he'd get against D-backs starter Patrick Corbin.

Waino's bases-clearing triple

"I just kind of made up my mind early that even if we got to that spot and the bases were loaded, when he comes up there he's going to be the hitter," Matheny said. "Sometimes when a guy gets going in the right direction, we want him to know that we have confidence in him, too."

Wainwright stepped in, took a sinker off the plate and then sliced one down the left-field line. When the ball kicked awkwardly out of the corner, Wainwright set his sights on third. He reached standing up.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.