The Cardinals scored seven unanswered runs to overcome an early two-run deficit and Adam Wainwright celebrated his 39th birthday in style, providing St. Louis a gift of his own with a 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon.
The soft-tossing curveball expert was just what the Cardinals needed to knock the Indians off balance after Cleveland claimed the first two games of the three-game weekend set. Looking to end a four-game losing skid, the Cardinals veteran right-hander limited the Indians to just two early runs and four hits in total while his St. Louis teammates jumped all over Cleveland starter Aaron Civale in a big second inning.
Both pitchers saw the minimum in the first inning. Wainwright retired the side in order, while Tommy Edman reached on a one-out grounder to first and moved to second on a groundout by Paul Goldschmidt before he was thrown out trying to steal third against Roberto Perez.
The Indians got on the board quickly in the second with a little help from replay. After Carlos Santana fouled out to third, Franmil Reyes drew a five-pitch walk. After Wainwright missed low on his first offering to Tyler Naquin, the Tribe right fielder launched a changeup high and deep to right. Initially ruled a double, replay showed that the ball cleared the right field wall and ricocheted off of a railing back into the field of play, giving Naquin his second homer of the season while extending his extra base hit streak to seven games and his overall hitting streak to ten straight. The Indians had a 2-0 lead.
Things fell apart just as quickly for Civale in the bottom of the inning as five straight Cardinals reached safely after a groundout by Brad Miller. Paul DeJong singled in front of Naquin in right. Yadier Molina singled the opposite way to put runners on the corners. Matt Carpenter walked on five pitches to load the bases and Dexter Fowler slashed the next pitch into the right field corner to drive in a pair, tying the game at two. After falling behind 2-0 to rookie Dylan Carlson, Civale left a cutter down the middle and Carlson drove it into right field, scoring both base runners to put the Cardinals up, 4-2. Carlson was caught stealing before Kolten Wong lined out to left.
The Indians last real threat came in the third. Delino DeShields singled to right-center and one out later, Jose Ramirez walked to put the tying runs on base. Francisco Lindor lined to right, moving DeShields to third, but Santana struck out swinging for Wainwright’s third K of the game, preserving the two-run lead.
The Cardinals got a gift run in the bottom of the third to add to their lead. With one down, Goldschmidt launched a high fly ball to left-center. Jordan Luplow lost the ball in the sun, letting Goldschmidt reach with a two-base hit. He moved to third on a groundout by Miller and with DeJong at the plate, Civale was called for a balk, pushing the Cardinals first baseman in to make it 5-2. The next pitch was grounded to short to end the inning.
Wainwright breezed through the fourth, striking out a pair. Civale matched it with his first and only 1-2-3 frame of the day.
Both clubs left runners in scoring position in the fifth. Cesar Hernandez, after striking out in his first two plate appearances, reached with two outs on a ground rule double, but Ramirez was set down on strikes. Civale walked Wong with one out and gave up a single to Edman that put runners on the corners, but Goldschmidt grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Wainwright countered Civale’s double play ball with one of his own to silence the Indians in the sixth. Lindor reached on a single to short and after Santana lined to left, Reyes chopped into a twin killer.
While Civale was not at his best, he gave the Indians six innings and worked out of jams. He had one more of those in his final inning of work when DeJong doubled with one out, but he got Molina to pop to short before striking out Carpenter with his third and final strikeout of the game.
Wainwright’s pitch count was building, but in unusual fashion, he was left on the mound. He needed just ten pitches to get through the seventh, throwing six to Perez before striking him out. The Cardinals added a run on a Fowler homer off of Cam Hill to start the seventh before Wainwright used ten more pitches to retire the Tribe in order again in the top of the eighth. Adam Cimber gave up back-to-back two-out hits to allow the seventh run of the game to touch home for the Cardinals in the home half before Wainwright got the final three outs of his complete game, getting Lindor, Santana, and Reyes on outs in the air.
The Indians’ four-game winning streak and ten-game road winning streak came to a close with the disappointing loss, dropping the club to 21-13 on the year. They hold a game and a half lead over Minnesota, which dropped its fifth straight in a loss Sunday to Detroit. Chicago was a half game out of the division race when the Indians-Cardinals game concluded. St. Louis improved to 12-13 on the year and is now 8-7 on the year at home.
Civale dropped to 3-4 behind his worst outing of the season. He went six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts. His command was not as crisp as usual and he struggled to work ahead in the count.
Wainwright moved to 3-0 on the year with his first complete game since 2016. He allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts on a season-high 122 pitches. He kept the Indians off-balance with a diet of breaking balls and faced just five over the minimum on the day that he celebrated his 39th birthday. During his 16 years in the Majors, Wainwright has now made starts against 29 of the 30 teams in the league. The lone exception to that list is St. Louis, the only team that he has pitched for since making his big league debut in 2005.
Molina played in career game 2,000 for the Cardinals, the third-most in club history.
Naquin has hit in each of his last ten games as the most consistent hitter in the Tribe lineup. Each of the last seven games of that stretch has included an extra base hit. During his hitting streak, Naquin is 14-for-41 (.341) with two homers and eight RBI. The hot stretch at the plate has boosted his season slash to .291/.316/545. Hernandez’s double was his 12th, tying him for the lead in the American League.
The bottom of the order delivered for the Cardinals, as Fowler and Carlson drove in five of the team’s seven runs on the day. Fowler’s homer was his fourth of the year.
The Indians will head a few hours west of St. Louis to the other side of Missouri after the game to open a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. Shane Bieber (6-0, 1.35 ERA) will be the first to the bump for the Tribe, while the Royals will send out right-hander Brad Keller (3-1, 2.08) in an 8:05 PM ET start from Kauffman Stadium.
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