Wainwright left frustrated by early blip

Righty settles down after allowing 6 runs over first 2 innings vs. Braves

August 7th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- It may have all unfolded much differently for with one more borderline pitch called in his favor, a little more outfield coverage bailing him out, or even a quicker reaction time snuffing a rally before it snowballed. But what could have been wasn't, and a first-inning sequence of near misses turned into one that lasted 39 pitches and put the Cardinals in a hole from which they'd never emerge.

Down by three after the first inning and six by the end of two, Wainwright steadied himself to give the club a needed six-inning start, but nevertheless left the Cardinals to shoulder a 6-3 loss to the Braves on Sunday.

It marked the first time since June 27 that the Cardinals' ace lost.

"I knew I had good stuff, and I knew I was commanding the ball pretty well," said Wainwright, whose ERA swelled to 4.34. "That was a frustrating game, no doubt. We needed to win that game. I'm sorry we didn't. That was my fault. The luck was certainly not on my side today, and sometimes you need it."

What was nearly a clean, 11-pitch first inning turned into one of the more laborious innings of Wainwright's season. A pair of borderline two-strike pitches to went in the Braves' favor, and Freeman took the walk. then sent a lofting flyball to right-center that neither , nor , could track down.

A single up the middle then narrowly evaded the gloves of Wainwright and second baseman for a two-run single.

"I should have caught that ball," Wainwright later lamented. "That's the way it went today."

Two more singles quickly followed, all of this part of a 12-batter stretch over two innings in which Wainwright garnered only two outs.

"He was close to getting out of that," manager Mike Matheny said. "It was one of those, you-wish-it-could-have-happened because once he got his rhythm and figured a few things out, he was really good."

Matheny admitted that he waffled a few times during those early innings about whether he needed to pull his ace. stood ready in the bullpen by the second inning, but Matheny worried that an already-taxed bullpen could not handle that significant a load.

He stuck with Wainwright after the Braves scored their third second-inning run and again when his spot in the order came up with one out, a pair of runners in scoring position and his pitch count already at 61. And in what was the bright spot of his afternoon, Wainwright did come through.

He rebounded to twirl four scoreless innings, during which the Braves mustered two singles and did not advance another runner into scoring position.

"He did a great job of competing and staying in that game and picking up the bullpen," Matheny said. "To think that he could get through six after what we saw in the first two … [there were] not very high odds of that."