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Using Fowler's bat, O'Neill powers Cards

Wainwright throws 7-inning complete game: 'Ha! It counts'
@anne__rogers
September 16, 2020

When Dexter Fowler walked into the Busch Stadium clubhouse on Wednesday morning, he noticed something was missing in his locker: His bats. The veteran outfielder, on the injured list and back in St. Louis, took to Instagram to call out the culprits -- Kolten Wong, Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill.

When Dexter Fowler walked into the Busch Stadium clubhouse on Wednesday morning, he noticed something was missing in his locker:

His bats.

The veteran outfielder, on the injured list and back in St. Louis, took to Instagram to call out the culprits -- Kolten Wong, Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill. He screenshotted O’Neill’s reply to the Instagram story, showing that the left fielder said he took two of the bats.

O'Neill confirmed after the second game of the doubleheader that it was Fowler's bat, and that he's been using it for the past few days. There was one discrepancy: O'Neill insists that Fowler gave the bat to him.

Regardless, the bats might have manifested some good luck. O’Neill homered and lifted a sacrifice fly in the Cardinals’ 4-2 win over the Brewers in the first game of the doubleheader at Miller Park to back a complete-game gem from Adam Wainwright, who moved to 5-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.87.

Box score

“I’m very particular with the bats that I use, but I needed a little change up, so I thought I’d bring that one up to the box," O'Neill said. "It wasn’t too much of a change. As athletes, I feel like sometimes we need to just have a different feel in the batter’s box or in anything. Get a little different feel and work with that.”

O'Neill's 407-foot shot to right-center field came in the second inning and cut the Cards' deficit to one. He then tied the game with a deep sacrifice fly in the fourth that scored Paul Goldschmidt.

“Really mature at-bat,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Really nice, under control, ‘I’m just going to put a good swing on it, put the ball in play.’ He’s a big strong kid, throws the ball out of the ballpark the other way and got that one in the air. Good baseball, good approach.”

The Cardinals took the lead thanks to Bader’s speed in the fifth inning. He flew down to first base on a grounder up the third-base line, causing Jace Peterson to wildly overthrow, allowing Bader to reach second base. Bader then went to third on Yadier Molina’s grounder to third and home on Tommy Edman’s double.

Brad Miller gave the Cardinals some insurance with a 421-foot home run to straightaway center.

Must-win game? Turn to Waino
After a tough loss on Tuesday, the Cardinals needed a win. And as he’s shown all season, there’s no one better to turn to in such situations than Wainwright. The veteran ace cruised through all seven innings of Game 1, allowing the only two Brewers runs in the first inning on Keston Hirua’s two-run home run. He didn’t let that faze him, only allowing three baserunners the rest of the game.

“It’s almost hard to describe what Waino does for us. He does so much,” Shildt said. “He goes down 2-0 in the first after a rough night and just bears down. Just went out and dominated, was in complete control. Displays yet again the art of pitching, and displays yet again what it means to be an ace with all caps.”

Wainwright struck out eight and walked only one on 102 pitches. It was his second complete game this season after he pitched nine innings against the Indians on his 39th birthday. Wednesday marked the fourth time in eight starts that Wainwright has pitched at least seven innings.

“There’s a responsibility as a starting pitcher to carry your team deep in the game,” Wainwright said. “If we start getting OK with going five innings, then we lose track of our responsibility. It’s nice to be able to finish a game strong. Even if though it’s a seven-inning game, I feel like I pitched a complete game.”

Wainwright wasn’t sure if the seven-inning game counted, but when he was informed that it does, he laughed.

“It does count? Ha! It counts,” Wainwright said, smiling. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.