Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wacha Helps Cards Get Back on Track

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wacha Helps Cards Get Back on Track

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO * It wasn't a complete game by Michael Wacha, who's never had one. Yet, you could say that it was. Certainly, it was one of the first "must" games the Cardinals have had this season.

After the Cardinals had bumbled around in the field for the first couple of days in this series, the San Diego Padres, who had been spotless defensively, let their slips show in the first inning Sunday as the Cardinals jumped to a 4-0 lead. Performing at a much higher level than Friday and Saturday, the Cardinals rolled to a 10- 3 win, salvaging one victory in the three-day series.

Wacha (15-4), joining San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Chicago's Jake Arrieta as 15-game winners in the National League, did what stoppers do. He halted a bad run, even though it had been only two games.

Wacha wasn't pinpoint, yet he held San Diego to one run and five hits over six innings, running his performance chart to four earned runs allowed over 32 innings in his last five starts for an ERA of 1.13.

And he singled to lead to a run in the fourth, he snared two line drives hit back at him and he even stole his first base.

An offense that had scored just nine runs in the previous five games came alive.

Stephen Piscotty, enjoying the best day of his five-week tenure as a big leaguer, knocked in five runs with a two-run homer, a solo homer and a two-run triple as he ended a nothing-for-10 dry spell.

"Stud," said Wacha. "It seems like nothing's really fazing him. He's staying locked in, never letting the stage get too big for him."

Jason Heyward had a single, double and triple for the Cardinals, scored two runs and drove in one. He's hitting .339 since the All- Star break.

When the word "stopper" was laid on manager Mike Matheny, he said, "Yeah, I don't think (Wacha) would mind having that title, he's been very consistent for us. He's done a terrific job.

"There were some big turning points in that game. That fifth (inning), when we come up with a zero after having second and third and nobody out ... that's a huge momentum shifter if he doesn't go in and clean out that inning.

"I didn't think he had his top stuff today. He pitched with heart more than anything and figured out a way to get outs in tough counts."

Wacha agreed with Matheny's assesment. "I'd definitely say my stuff wasn't as sharp as it has been. I just had to keep battling," said Wacha. I had to work out of some jams and let my defense play behind me. They were making plays for me all night."

There were two of his own, of course, plus the hit and the stolen base.

"I felt like I was actually a player out there, running around and getting dirty," Wacha said. "It was a lot of fun."

Wacha said, kiddingly, "I've got the green light all the time." But he said he also had learned from pitcher Carlos Martinez's headfirst slide into third the night before.

"He tried to teach me how to slide last night," said Wacha, "and that didn't look near as fun. …

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