ST. LOUIS -- Insistent that what he showed early this season was not an indication of a precipitous career decline, Adam Wainwright, in leading the Cardinals to an 8-3 win over the Giants on Sunday, delivered further evidence to rebuff such assumptions on Sunday. The Cardinals' win also helped them halt a four-game losing streak and avoid being swept at Busch Stadium by San Francisco for the first time since 1998.
Once two of the most dominant right-handers in the game, Wainwright and Matt Cain each sought to build off strong starts. Only Wainwright did. Cain, stung by Randal Grichuk's bases-clearing double in the second and a two-run homer by Matt Carpenter in the fifth, let things get away early.
"I was coaxing it. I was doing the Carlton Fisk," joked Wainwright, of watching Grichuk's double from the on-deck circle. "It was a big swing because Matt has been pitching pretty good. He's got some good stuff out there working. He gets a double play there, the game is completely changed."
Instead, Cain allowed seven runs over 5 1/3 innings and remains winless in his career at Busch Stadium with an 8.28 ERA.
"He was just behind more than he's normally been this year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been throwing the ball well and he gave up the four spot in the second inning, that's a big number and a tough one to overcome but he battled, he competed. I thought it was just a case as you can see where he wasn't as sharp today."
Wainwright, on the other hand, pulled his ERA below five for the first time since his season debut by allowing one run over 6 1/3 innings. The performance followed one a week ago in which he tossed seven scoreless innings.
"He's such a competitor and he finds a way," Bochy said of Wainwright. "He had good stuff. He had a good breaking ball going. He uses his fastball well and good command. He's always a tough matchup when you're going against him and he pitched great today."
The Giants tallied five hits and drew three walks off Wainwright, but went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against him. Since opening the year 0-3 with a 7.24 ERA, Wainwright has reeled off four straight wins.
"Just like his last start, when he had to make good pitches and he had guys on base, I saw him be able to execute," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Wainwright. "This is the guy we've watched for a long time here, and it looks right."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Ambushed: Dreams of another scoreless duel like the one featured on Saturday came to an abrupt end in the second, when Cain allowed the first four batters to reach. After Aledmys Diaz drew a rare walk (his seventh in 170 plate appearances) to load the bases, Grichuk delivered the afternoon's biggest hit. His bases-clearing double, which had an exit velocity of 100 mph, highlighted the Cardinals' most fruitful inning of the season. By the end of it, the Cardinals led 4-0.
"He left it over the plate a bit too much," Grichuk said of the fastball he turned on. "I feel like I've gotten a bunch of balls that have flown out to the track within the last week and a half. [It] felt good for it to get down out there."
Before Sunday, right-handed batters had slugged only .348 against Cain.
"We were going in and that's a good job on his side to be able to keep that ball fair," Cain said. "From my vantage point, it looked like it was right on the line so it's a good piece of hitting. That inning kind of put a little bit of a bump in us and a big inning like that is tough to come back from. It put us in a big hole especially against a guy like Wainwright."
Building block: The game wasn't exactly in jeopardy when Brett Cecil relieved Wainwright with two on, one out in a 7-1 game. But given Cecil's season-long struggles against left-handers, it was notable what happened next. He retired two straight -- first Denard Span, then Joe Panik -- to strand two runners and suppress the final serious offensive threat the Giants would have. Entering the day, left-handed hitters had slashed .448/.514/.897 against Cecil, a pitcher the Cards hope works himself back into a higher-leverage role.
"To come in and face a couple of tough lefties, too, and make quality pitches in a situation [was positive]," Matheny said of Cecil. "I know he wanted to get in there and make something happen on the positive side. These are two outings in a row where I think we're getting closer. Just keep building that up. Once we get Brett's confidence up, the stuff, they go hand in hand. And he's going to get big outs for us."
"I know, I blew it. We've got a good rotation and some great arms in that bullpen, too. There's no reason we shouldn't be one of the top pitching staffs in the league. Top to bottom, we're going to expect to be that." -- Wainwright, after being reminded that the starting pitchers allowed one run in 21 1/3 innings during this series
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The Giants connected on back-to-back homers for the second time this season when Brandon Crawford and Eduardo Nunez took reliever Miguel Socolovich deep with two out in the eighth. With those two blasts, the Giants' last 15 home runs have all been solo shots. They hit a Major League-record 21 consecutive solo homers in 2011.
For Nunez, the home run extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is 12-for-33 during that stretch. More >>
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: The Giants begin a four-game series against the Cubs in Chicago on Monday. Left-hander Ty Blach, making his sixth start of the season in place of Madison Bumgarner, will face John Lackey. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. PT.
Cardinals: Seven of the Cardinals' next 10 games will come against the Dodgers, beginning with Tuesday's 9:10 p.m. CT contest at Dodger Stadium. Lance Lynn draws that start against Clayton Kershaw. Lynn has yielded two or fewer runs in five of his eight starts this season.