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Holliday's homer all Wainwright, Cards need

Right-hander spins seven shutout innings to clinch series victory

CHICAGO -- Adam Wainwright was determined to finish the seventh inning Sunday.

The Cardinals led, 1-0, and Wainwright, coming off a tough outing, had walked the Cubs' Ryan Sweeney with his 97th pitch to put two on with two outs for lefty Nate Schierholtz.

As Wainwright strategized how to approach Schierholtz with new catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny strode to the mound to question his ace if he needed bring on left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist.

"I truly was ready to go either way," Matheny sad. "I was real ready to go to Siegrist if there was something that I saw that I didn't like or something that he said that would make me leaning in that direction. The odds of that happening aren't very high."

Matheny stuck with his All-Star, who got Schierholtz to ground out, paving way for the Cardinals bullpen to preserve a 1-0 win, with Trevor Rosenthal earning his MLB-leading 32nd save.

Matheny's faith in Wainwright was evident when he sent the starter to bat in an obvious pinch-hitting situation -- with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.

Just how long is the list of starting pitchers that Matheny would leave to hit in that scenario?

"Very short," he said of Wainwright, who picked up his 13th win, tops in the Majors. "Maybe one on that list.

"It's all about pitching at that point. We were having a hard time getting something going offensively, and we could roll the dice. ... We've got one of the best pitchers in the league on the mound. And to me, especially where his pitch count was, I want him going back out there to throw."

Wainwright had a one-run lead before he even took the mound. Matt Holliday sent his second homer of the series, his 10th of the year, over the left-center field wall on a 2-1 fastball in the opening frame.

It was the third time this season Wainwright won a 1-0 contest, all of which were aided by solo home runs -- two from Holliday (Sunday and June 10 against the Rays) and another from Yadier Molina on Opening Day.

"That always helps ... It was a good swing off a very good pitcher," Wainwright said of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. "A guy who's doing a good job keeping the ball down in the zone. He kept us on the ground most of the time, got some double plays when he needed it. Any time a pitcher gets a lead, he can go out and take hitters."

Hendricks, in just his third MLB start, was nearly as efficient as the Cardinals' ace, tossing 94 pitches over 6 1/3 innings with one earned run on seven hits and no walks. The rookie who debuted on July 10 recorded his second consecutive quality start in three tries.

"He didn't give us a lot," Matheny said of Hendricks. "You could tell he's a cerebral pitcher -- guy is thinking all the time and trying to out-think instead of out-stuff. But he's got good stuff, too."

Matt Carpenter managed three hits off the Cubs starter, the second time this series he's notched a trifecta and seventh this season. Pierzynski also lined his fourth hit in eight at-bats with the Cardinals after signing with the team on Saturday. Jhonny Peralta extended his strong month with a hit, bringing his July average to .301 (22-for-73).

The Cardinals, second-worst in the Majors with 385 runs, earned their league-leading 18th shutout.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday