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Cards erupt in 8th as Waino holds off Crew

St. Louis moves ahead of Mets for second NL Wild Card
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- A break in the summer humidity provided the perfect setting for a game that felt like it belonged in October. And that meant the Cardinals were in their element.

Adam Wainwright stranded the bases full of Brewers in the top of the eighth inning and the Cardinals rewarded their longtime ace with a five-run rally to seal a 5-1 win at Busch Stadium that lifted St. Louis back into second place in the National League Wild Card standings. The Cardinals moved a half-game ahead of the Mets while remaining one game behind the Giants.

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ST. LOUIS -- A break in the summer humidity provided the perfect setting for a game that felt like it belonged in October. And that meant the Cardinals were in their element.

Adam Wainwright stranded the bases full of Brewers in the top of the eighth inning and the Cardinals rewarded their longtime ace with a five-run rally to seal a 5-1 win at Busch Stadium that lifted St. Louis back into second place in the National League Wild Card standings. The Cardinals moved a half-game ahead of the Mets while remaining one game behind the Giants.

Full Game Coverage

"It was a big game," Wainwright said. "We needed that game, we wanted that game … you've got to make your pitches and we'll take that win for sure."

'Wright direction: Cards climb behind ace

Wainwright caught Brewers cleanup hitter Hernan Perez looking at a controversial called strike three to freeze the Brewers' lead at 1-0 before the Cardinals stormed ahead. They sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth against Milwaukee relievers Corey Knebel and Jhan Marinez, with Matt Adams tying the game on a pinch-hit groundout, Kolten Wong delivering a go-ahead single and Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina adding insurance RBIs in the Cardinals' second victory in as many nights.

Video: MIL@STL: Piscotty plates two with a double to center

"It's nice to see Adam get rewarded for getting through," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a tough eighth. He had his back against the wall, but that's typically when he is his best. It's like our offense has the same personality."

Wainwright won his second straight start by holding the Brewers to one run on six hits in eight innings in his longest outing since his shutout July 16. He induced two double plays and struck out seven, his only mistake a fifth-inning solo home run off the bat of Brewers rookie center fielder Keon Broxton. Wainwright's 14 wins against the Brewers are his most against any opponent and the most of any active pitcher against Milwaukee.

Video: MIL@STL: Wainwright fans seven to earn win No. 11

The Cardinals' comeback erased good work from Brewers starter Chase Anderson and Carlos Torres, who held St. Louis scoreless on three hits through seven innings. Wainwright was the only Cardinals batter to reach second base until the eighth. That changed against Knebel, who took the loss and was charged with four earned runs on three hits in one-third of an inning.

"Corey has had some struggles here lately," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We have to look at that, for sure. It's really been against this team, actually, most of his struggles."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Out at home: The decisive eighth began to turn against the Brewers when Cards center fielder Randal Grichuk threw out pinch-runner Jake Elmore at the plate for the second out of the inning. With runners at first and second, one out and the dangerous Ryan Braun on deck, Elmore froze to make sure Scooter Gennett's soft single fell safely in center field. Despite that late jump, Brewers third-base coach Ed Sedar waved Elmore home, where he was out easily thanks to Grichuk's on-target throw.

"Timely. We needed that play to happen right there," Matheny said. "All the way around, [Grichuk] is doing everything we could ask."

Video: MIL@STL: Grichuk nabs Elmore with a strong throw home

Counsell conceded that it was a mistake for Sedar to send the runner.

Said Elmore: "In hindsight, obviously I'm running right at the crack of the bat. But with Braun on deck, the worst thing that could have happened is me take off, and then there's a catch and I'm doubled off second."

Waino whiffs Perez: Had Elmore stopped at third, Braun would have batted with one out, the bases loaded and Wainwright at 104 pitches, forcing Matheny to decide whether to call for reliever Matt Bowman. Instead, with first base open and two outs, Wainwright intentionally walked Braun for a showdown with Perez, who took a 2-2 pitch outside that was called strike three by plate umpire Carlos Torres (no relation to the Brewers reliever). Perez's protest to the call earned him an ejection, the first for a Milwaukee player all season.

"You're in a game like that, bases loaded, two outs -- you want to be the guy," Perez said. "That was a bad pitch. That was outside. That's why I got mad about it." More >

Video: MIL@STL: Perez gets ejected for arguing strike call

Wong's way: Wong approached the plate in the bottom of the eighth and slapped a single through the right side of the infield to score Grichuk from second and give the Cardinals the 2-1 lead. He has now reached safely in his last eight starts and played a hand in the game-winning RBI in each of the past two games.

"We knew we had a chance if we could just get a couple guys on base," Wong said. "We've got the firepower to get ourselves a couple runs and luckily we did."

Video: MIL@STL: Wong singles in Grichuk to give Cards lead

Third time's a charm: Broxton, acquired with a pitching prospect in an offseason trade with the Pirates, made Milwaukee's Opening Day roster but hit .125/.253/.188 with one home run in 64 at-bats over a pair of stints with the Brewers before the All-Star break. During the second of his demotions to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Broxton lowered the position of his hands to simplify his swing, and he returned to the Majors in late July a different hitter. He entered Saturday with a .303/.415/.521 slash line in 119 at-bats since the promotion, and added a pair of hits, including his seventh home run.

Video: MIL@STL: Broxton crushes a 429-foot home run blast

QUOTABLE
"It could have been a better inning for us." -- Perez, offering the understatement of the night to sum up the Brewers' view of the eighth

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Zach Davies aims for his team-best 15th quality start when he makes his 26th start of the season on Sunday (1:15 p.m. CT) at Busch Stadium. Davies has limited the Cardinals to three earned runs in 14 1/3 innings over a pair of starts this year.

Cardinals: Luke Weaver makes his sixth career start -- just his second at Busch Stadium -- in the series finale. He went six innings and allowed three runs in his last start against the Brewers, with all the scoring coming on a Kirk Nieuwenhuis home run.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis and covered the Cardinals on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Matt Adams, Chase Anderson, Keon Broxton, Jake Elmore, Randal Grichuk, Corey Knebel, Hernan Perez, Stephen Piscotty, Adam Wainwright, Kolten Wong