ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before Sunday night's game that his players would be challenged by the tantalizing offerings of Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Roberts was correct.The Dodgers, who had scored 37 runs in their four-game winning streak, fell silent against the 37-year-old Wainwright
ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before Sunday night's game that his players would be challenged by the tantalizing offerings of Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Roberts was correct.
The Dodgers, who had scored 37 runs in their four-game winning streak, fell silent against the 37-year-old Wainwright and the Cardinals in a 5-0 loss at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (2-3) allowed two hits in six innings -- a double to Justin Turner in the first and a single to Joc Pederson in the third. He walked three and struck out nine, his highest total since April 21, 2017, when he also fanned nine in a win at Milwaukee.
"I thought Wainwright was really good tonight," Roberts said. "When any pitcher can throw his breaking ball at any point in time … we're a fastball-hitting team. He was doing it. He was striking it and it had good bite. [He had] the fastball in on the lefty and the curveball off of that, changing eye levels."
Los Angeles (82-68), which mustered just four hits against four pitchers, dropped out of first place in the National League West, a half-game behind the Rockies and into a tie with the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot with 12 games to play.
The Dodgers, who scored 29 runs in taking three of four from St. Louis, will begin a key three-game series against the Rockies on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
"We're a half-game back of the Rockies," Roberts said. "We've got those guys at home. We're excited about that. We're in good shape. … For us to come in here and win a series against a good club over there, we did what we wanted to accomplish."
Wainwright, who spent 119 days on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation worked in the upper-80s and low-90s with his fastball and in the low to mid-70s with his curveball.
Wainwright struck out Player Page for Max Muncy and Chase Utley two times apiece. He kept red-hot Yasiel Puig in the ballpark by walking him in the second -- after being ahead 0-2 -- and retiring him on a grounder to third in the fifth. Puig was 0-for-3 and finished the series 6-for-14 with five home runs and nine RBIs.
"I feel like what made him effective today is how he mixed his pitches," Cody Bellinger said of Wainwright. "I feel like his curveball has always been his pitch in his career, and today he was spotting it wherever he wanted to spot it. He was just mixing his pitches really well."
Right-hander Thomas Stripling (8-4), making his first start since Roberts announced Thursday that Stripling would replace left-hander Alex Wood in the rotation, allowed three runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked none and struck out five.
Roberts had hoped Stripling could throw 75 pitches. He came close with 72, but was hurt by a Marcell Ozuna home run that put the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, in the second. Jedd Gyorko and Yadier Molina contributed back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth, with Molina's hit ending Stripling's outing.
"I actually felt really good," Stripling said, proclaiming his back 100 percent healthy. "I felt like I threw the ball better today than I did [Wednesday] in Cincinnati. The Ozuna homer really was a good pitch, down and away. You just kind of tip your cap on that one.
"We certainly feel like destiny's in our hands a little bit. If we go take care of business at home, we'll be in good shape. We would have liked to get the win today. A sweep in St. Louis would have been huge, but taking three out of four is big."
Stripling appreciated what Wainwright was able to accomplish.
"He threw a curveball I thought was going to hit me in the face and it dropped down for a strike," Stripling said. "He's a veteran on the mound. He's going to bring his 'A' game and be ready to pitch. Obviously, that's what he did."
Roberts expected nothing less.
"He's a big-game pitcher," Roberts said. "This guy, you've got to expect his best, and that's what he brought. You saw his emotion. He knew how much that club needed that lift. To see him execute like that, I've seen it for many years."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bud Norris took over for Wainwright to start the seventh and issued a leadoff walk to Yasmani Grandal. Norris fell behind 1-0 on Bellinger, then exited the game with a blister on his right middle finger. Jordan Hicks relieved and walked Bellinger. But Hicks, whose fastball was clocked at 104 mph, quelled the Dodgers' most serious threat by striking out Puig, retiring Utley on a fly to left and getting pinch-hitter Alex Verdugo on a roller to second.
"That was the one chance we had," Roberts said. "But that's a tough at-bat. Left-handed, right-handed, you don't see 104 very often. He was sitting at 100, and that's tough to square up."
Hicks returned for the eighth, working around Turner's single.
Dodgers reliever Pat Venditte, who throws with both hands, was called on after Stripling allowed two fourth-inning runs. Venditte, throwing left-handed, retired Kolten Wong on a liner to second. Then, throwing right-handed, he got Harrison Bader on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"Unfortunately, we didn't have much offense going. We'll wake up tomorrow and we've got a big series against the Rockies. We're not going to think about this one too much." -- Bellinger, on moving past the loss to the Cardinals
The Dodgers return to Los Angeles for a six-game homestand against the Rockies and the Padres. They will send Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-3, 2.42 ERA) against the Rockies' Jon Gray (11-7, 4.80) in the opener of a three-game series Monday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Ryu is 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA in nine career starts against Colorado.
David Wilhelm is a contributor to MLB.com.