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Wainwright poised to contribute in NLDS

Cardinals righty delivers third solid relief outing

ATLANTA -- Mike Matheny was never nervous about Adam Wainwright's curveball.

"I saw him from his very first bullpen; the first time he threw his curveball he was sharp," the Cardinals manager said after a 6-0 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon. "That's something that he falls out of bed throwing well."

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From the looks of the veteran righty's performance Sunday, Matheny is justified in his confidence in Wainwright's signature pitch. But in his three outings since returning from the disabled list after his Achilles injury, Wainwright has inspired confidence with more than just his hook.

He turned in another solid performance in the first game of a regular-season-ending doubleheader in Atlanta, pitching a shutout eighth inning, allowing just one baserunner via a walk and striking out one. He has now allowed one run off two hits and one walk with two strikeouts in three relief appearances.

Between Sunday's games, Matheny described the veteran's performance as "great." In Matheny's mind, the value of this appearance was getting an extra opportunity to see Wainwright compete before the National League Division Series begins Friday in St. Louis. And though Matheny said there remains a zero percent chance Wainwright will appear as a starter in either of the first two games of the NLDS, he said he was confident that Wainwright will at least play a role.

"There's no doubt that he's going to step up when we need him as long as his body is cooperating, and it looks like his body is cooperating," Matheny said.

After the doubleheader, Wainwright said he wasn't sure if he would be on the postseason roster, but said he will be proud of what he was able to do to help the team in his brief return.

"I've done all I can do," Wainwright said. "I won't have hard feelings if I don't make it because these guys have been busting their tail all year. I've done what I can do and I have no regrets about anything that has happened. I just feel incredible pitching again and I'll be ready either way."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for
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