WASHINGTON (AP) — Adam Wainwright kicked his way to a nice break. Kolten Wong made his own luck.
Worked out quite well for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wainwright pitched neatly into the seventh inning, helping himself by kicking the ball over to first for a key out, and St. Louis beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on Tuesday night.
The NL Central-leading Cardinals rallied for their fourth straight victory. It was the Cardinals’ 18th win in April, matching a team record set in 2008.
A couple of key plays by Wainwright and Wong paid big dividends.
St. Louis was down 2-0 when Wong came up with the bases loaded and two out in the fourth. He drove in Paul DeJong with a perfectly placed bunt up the third base line , and Harrison Bader followed with a two-run single.
“I just wanted to try and get something started,” Wong said. “If I put down a good bunt, it’s one of those where these guys are too far back where they wouldn’t get me, and Paulie was taking his lead and would easily score.”
Washington pitcher Anibal Sanchez (0-4) admitted that the bunt surprised him.
“This guy, he’s the perfect guy to do that,” Sanchez said. “Really good bunt and he’s got great speed, so there’s nothing you can do with the ball on the line like that.”
Wainwright (3-2) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Washington had a chance to get to him in the second, loading the bases with two out. Sanchez then hit a comebacker that Wainwright inadvertently kicked over to Paul Goldschmidt for the easy out , ending the inning.
The 37-year-old Wainwright grinned as he walked off the mound.
“It was kind of like ‘I’m just going to wear it and we’ll take our chances that it’ll have a good bounce,’” Wainwright said. “It might have been the best bounce I’ve ever seen off a pitcher’s leg.”
The Nationals grabbed a 2-0 lead on consecutive homers by Adam Eaton and Victor Robles in the third. But the Cardinals rallied in the fourth.
After Wainwright departed, Tyler Webb, John Gant and Andrew Miller combined for 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball. Miller got two outs for his first save with St. Louis.
Sanchez struck out seven in five innings. He allowed five hits and walked two.
Washington manager Dave Martinez said his team came up empty on too many scoring chances. The Nationals went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
“We get opportunities to score, we’ve got to capitalize,” Martinez said. “We’ve just got to move the ball, put the ball in play. We’ve got to start driving in those runs.”
Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina worked together for the 248th time on a start, tying the duo with Atlanta’s Tom Glavine and Javy Lopez (1994-2002) for 10th place among batterymates.
Molina went 0 for 3 with a walk, ending his hitting streak at 16 games.
The Nationals brought up left-hander Dan Jennings from Double-A Harrisburg and designated right-hander Austin Adams for assignment.
Cardinals: OF Dexter Fowler (illness) got the day off. Manager Mike Shildt said he hoped Fowler would be available Wednesday. … RHP Luke Gregerson (shoulder impingement) will throw a live batting practice session Wednesday. Gregerson, who has not pitched in the majors this season, has a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings over three minor league levels during his rehabilitation assignment.
Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon (left elbow contusion) was placed on the injured list, retroactive to this past Saturday. He had missed seven of the past eight games as the elbow was originally thought to be healing. Rendon played one game but the elbow issues came back. The Nationals did medical tests that showed there wasn’t a fracture, but the team wants him to rest and let the injury heal.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (2-2, 5.29 ERA) pitches Wednesday. He gave up four runs and 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings in his last start at Nationals Park on Sept. 5.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (1-3, 4.12 ERA) has struck out an average of 14.85 per inning in his last three starts versus the Cardinals.