ST. LOUIS -- Last in the Majors in runs scored, the Braves did not look offensively challenged at Busch Stadium this weekend. After scoring 13 runs to even the series a day earlier, Atlanta knocked around Adam Wainwright for six quick runs on Sunday that held up for a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals.
"Coming off last night, you never know what will happen with a quick turnaround," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. "They just kind of picked up right where they left off. To come in here and take two of three from the Cardinals at any point in time, that's really good."
Wainwright retired the first two batters of the game and then watched 11 of the next 12 Atlanta hitters reach. Nick Markakis and Jace Peterson delivered run-scoring hits in a three-run first, and Erick Aybar's two-run triple in the second left Wainwright teetering. By the time Wainwright closed the second with a double play, he had thrown 61 pitches and was staring into a six-run hole.
Though Wainwright rebounded with four scoreless innings to follow, the Cardinals never did. They turned six hits and two walks off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz into one run. Foltynewicz was at his best when pitching with runners on base. Over the Cardinals' last four games, they've scored a total of seven runs.
"You just try and put it in the back of your head," Foltynewicz said of pitching with the lead. "It's kind of difficult to pitch like that. You've just got to stay aggressive and still attack the strike zone which I think I did a good job [of] today."
The Braves, who have won back-to-back series for the first time since June, have eight victories in their last 12 games.
As for the Cardinals, who dropped one game behind the Marlins for the second National League Wild Card spot, they have squandered an opportunity to separate themselves in that race over the last week. The club has lost six of eight and consecutive series against last-place clubs.
"Certainly for where we should be, it's pretty dadgum dark," Wainwright said. "Nobody in this clubhouse is quitting. Nobody in this clubhouse is expecting this to continue for the entire season. We're all expecting to play much better baseball and more consistent baseball. We just need our starting pitcher to go out there and not give up six in the first two innings and give his team a chance."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Making Waino wobble: Wainwright has given up 11 runs to the Braves this season, tied for the most of any opponent he's faced this season. His six runs against Atlanta on Sunday were the most he has given up in 12 career starts against them. He has now given up 34 runs to the Braves -- the team that drafted him -- in his career, the most among any team not in the National League Central. Foltynewicz was a Cardinals fan growing up and idolized Wainwright, against whom he got a hit in his first at-bat.
"Just trying to put the ball in play," Foltynewicz said. "I kind of had a hunch he would keep throwing me the curveball 0-2 and I saw it pop up and tried to put the bat on the ball."
Ender on fire:Ender Inciarte extended his hitting streak to 18 games in the second inning with a single, tying his career high that spanned July and August 2014. He has hit safely in 24 of his last 25 games.
"He's the kid we've been waiting to see," Snitker said. "Credit to him for hanging in there, busting his tail. Swinging that bat really well."
Missed chances: Despite falling into an early hole, the Cardinals had plenty of offensive opportunities to dent the deficit. However, the Cardinals went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Foltynewicz. In both the first and third innings, the Cardinals put a runner on second with no outs yet could not advance him even as far as third. A scoring chance in the second with runners on second and third and one out stalled as well. The leadoff man reached against Foltynewicz in four of six innings but scored just once.
"They found some holes, and we didn't," said Brandon Moss, whose sacrifice fly in the fifth finally helped the offense break through. "Both teams put a lot of guys on base, and they were able to cash them in. I would venture to say we probably even hit the ball harder. But it's not how hard you hit it or how many guys you put on base. It's how many cross the plate."
Silver lining: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had reliever Jerome Williams ready in the second inning and nearly made the pitching change after Markakis drew a one-out walk. But Matheny stuck with Wainwright, and, despite having already allowed six runs, the Cardinals' ace found his footing and managed to finish six innings. Had he exited in that second inning, it would have been the shortest start of Wainwright's career.
"There were quite a few different times that we thought it might be a time to get him out, but once again, we needed his help to get us through the game," Matheny said. "[I asked myself], 'Is our bullpen ready to handle that kind of load?' And the answer is, 'I didn't think so.'" More >
"There are still two months left, and, to be honest, a lot of things work themselves out the last week of the season. You play six months, and then it comes down to the last week of the season. I still think we are [going to make the playoffs], and I still think we have a good chance. We'll know that day. We've just been consistently inconsistent." -- Moss, on the Cardinals' recent struggles
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When reliever Madison Younginer entered to pitch the eighth, he became the ninth Braves player to make his Major League debut this season. Younginer retired the first batter (Moss) he faced, but wouldn't be able to finish the inning. He allowed two runs on three hits. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: The Braves head to Milwaukee on Monday as Atlanta continues a 10-game road trip. Rob Whalen will make his second career start after earning the victory in his first on Wednesday against the Pirates. He went five innings and gave up four runs on four hits in his Major League debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET.
Cardinals: For the second straight outing, Michael Wacha will face the Reds on Monday as the Cardinals welcome Cincinnati to town for a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT. Wacha has won five straight decisions and his last seven starts against the Reds.