Wainwright benefits from Cards' battering of Bucs

Wainwright benefits from Cards' battering of Bucs

Wainwright benefits from Cards' battering of Bucs
ST. LOUIS -- Having received no run support in four April starts, Adam Wainwright was the beneficiary of the Cardinals' battering of Pirates pitching in Tuesday's series opener. With David Freese providing the knock that opened the floodgates, St. Louis pounced on Charlie Morton in the fifth and piled on from there in a 10-7 win.

As the offense rolled, so, too, did Wainwright, who is no longer searching for that first post-Tommy John surgery win. One year, seven months and eight days after he won the 66th game of his career, Wainwright finally has No. 67.

"I think scoring runs for Waino was what we wanted to do tonight," said Freese. "We're rooting for all our pitchers, but especially Waino with the way he works."

Freese provided the go-ahead lift with his sixth homer of the season, a three-run shot off Morton in the fifth that broke a 2-2 tie. Freese now has a team-best 11 hits with runners in scoring position, and he leads the club in RBIs, with 23.

The crowd summoned him for a curtain call after he finished rounding the bases.

"It was just up. It didn't do anything," Morton said of the sinker that had no sink. "He's a really good hitter. Everybody in their lineup is a tough out."

They proved to be much tougher for Morton this time, as he had limited the Cardinals to one earned run in a five-inning start less than two weeks ago. The difference on Tuesday, as several in St. Louis' clubhouse explained it, was rooted in the Cardinals' ability to back off when Morton commanded his sinker off the plate.

"I think he took guys out of their approach in Pittsburgh," manager Mike Matheny said. "He got them to swing at his pitches, and today they stuck with what they wanted to do instead of going to him."

Morton pitched to only two more batters after Freese. Yadier Molina doubled on a ball that Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata had trouble tracking, and Allen Craig drove him in with a single up the middle.

The hit and RBI were both firsts for Craig, who was making his season debut. Fresh off the disabled list, he finished the night with two hits.

"It felt great to be a ballplayer again," said Craig.

The Cardinals used the long ball and assistance from the Pirates' defense to push across most of the rest of their runs. The Pirates committed four errors in the game, which led to four unearned runs. It was the second time in four meetings between these two teams that Pittsburgh has made four errors in a game.

Two more scored on Rafael Furcal's two-run homer, his first of the season. Matt Holliday contributed a solo shot amid his three-hit night, his second three-hit game in his last four games. His batting average has climbed, from .194 to .235, over a nine-game span.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I did feel good tonight," Holliday said.

"Hopefully, he can stay there and ride it out," added Matheny.

Everyone but second baseman Skip Schumaker reached base at least once, and Jon Jay extended his hitting streak to 10 games. This marked the sixth time in 2012 that the Cardinals have collected at least 13 hits, and they've now scored in the double digits five times.

It was all a welcome sight for Wainwright, who found plenty to be pleased with in his seven-inning effort. Though he served up another two home runs, he pitched deeper into this start than he had in any other this year, and he allowed a season-low five hits.

"I think if you look at 90 percent of my game today, it was pretty good," Wainwright said. "It's good to get a win, but I've got a long ways to go. I'm more concerned with the quality of my pitches and the execution during the game."

Wainwright's pitches have been released with more life and crispness in his last two outings, which is partially the result of more control during his delivery.

Next up is reining in the home runs.

Tabata and Pedro Alvarez each drove a first-pitch offering from Wainwright over the wall for two-run homers, Tabata's giving Pittsburgh a short-lived one-run lead in the third. Alvarez, who has four homers in his last seven games, brought the Pirates to within three with his seventh-inning blast. The Cardinals responded by scoring three times in the bottom half of the frame.

Home runs have been an issue for Wainwright all year. He has now allowed a team-high seven, which is nearly half the total he served up in 2010, when he made 33 starts. No one else on the pitching staff has allowed more than three, and Wainwright joins New York's R.A. Dickey as the only National League starters to have given up more than six.

Several of the homers, including Alvarez's, were hit off hanging cut fastballs.

"I have to get that pitch worked out," Wainwright said. "It'll be all right."

The bullpen, which posted an NL-best 2.70 ERA in April, allowed Pittsburgh to score three times in the eighth. All of those runs were charged to Fernando Salas, who has now allowed at least one run in three of his last five appearances.

With their seven runs, the Pirates became just the second team to score that many in a game against the Cardinals. It also marked just the second time this season that Pittsburgh has scored more than five.

"The offense really put me on their back today," Wainwright said. "They're the story today."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.