Wainwright baffles Rockies over 7 innings in Cards’ 3-0 win

DENVER (AP) — Adam Wainwright silenced Colorado’s bats yet again — maybe even some critics, too.

“No matter how many times I keep telling people, ‘I’m sick and tired of hearing he’s not what he once was,’ I’ve got to prove it,” the 35-year-old Wainwright said. “I’m working on shutting those people up.”

The right-hander kept up his mastery of the Rockies by scattering three hits over seven innings, Tommy Pham hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Colorado 3-0 on Saturday night.

Wainwright (5-3) struck out six and retired the last 10 batters he faced as he moved to 10-1 with a 1.56 ERA over his career against Colorado.

He also said something unexpected about Coors Field.

“I love pitching here,” he acknowledged. “It’s as big of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. You can very easily let the altitude and the lineup over there, the hotness of those hitters, you can let all that get in your head.

“I love overcoming obstacles like that.”

Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a run-scoring single in the third. Pham had the big blow in the fifth, when he lined a slider from Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland (5-3) into the left-center seats.

The Cardinals withstood a scare in the eighth, with Trevor Rosenthal working his way out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Carlos Gonzalez to ground out. Seung Hwan Oh pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.

Freeland lasted six innings and gave up three runs for the NL-leading Rockies. He couldn’t follow the lead of fellow rookie Antonio Senzatela, who threw eight shutout innings the night before.

“He gave us a chance to hang in there and keep it close,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Their pitchers made pitches throughout the night that we couldn’t muster anything.”

Indeed. Especially off Wainwright, who confused the Rockies by mixing his hard-to-hit curveball with a cutter. This was definitely more like the Wainwright of old, not the one who struggled through April with a 2-3 mark.

He’s gone 3-0 in May by varying the speeds of all his pitches. He struck out Gonzalez in a 10-pitch at bat with a steady diet of curves in the fourth. Later, Wainwright froze Trevor Story in the same inning with a 92-mph fastball.

“All night throwing slow curveballs, and more and more and more slow curveballs,” Gonzalez said. “And then whenever he throws a fastball, it doesn’t matter if it’s 89, it looks harder than that.”

All part of his plan.

“This is a crazy place to pitch. You have to do some things differently here,” Wainwright said. “I’ve always had success here, pitching like that. I love pitching here, actually. I love coming here to visit. Love fishing and playing golf here. This is one of my favorite cities in the whole United States.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: 2B Kolten Wong was a late scratch from the lineup with left elbow stiffness. “It’s a little concerning that it’s popped up again,” manager Mike Matheny said.

ROSTER MOVE

The Cardinals purchased the contract of RHP John Brebbia from Triple-A Memphis and designated lefty Miguel Socolovich for reassignment. Brebbia turns 27 on Tuesday.

THIS & THAT

Wainwright made his 330th appearance for the Cardinals to tie Larry Jackson (1955-62) for 10th on the team’s all-time list. … OF Ian Desmond had two singles. … The Rockies were shut out at home for a third time this season.

DOUBLED UP

Freeland worked his way out of early trouble courtesy of two double plays . St. Louis has now hit into six double plays in splitting the first two games of the series.

MABRY INFLUENCE

Mark Reynolds credits St. Louis hitting coach John Mabry for revamping his swing when he was with Cardinals in 2015.

“Really changed my mind from an approach of all-or-nothing to keeping my barrel in the zone as much as I can,” explained Reynolds, who’s hitting .316 this season. “It’s what I’ve been trying to do the past couple of years.”

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (4-2, 2.53 ERA) is holding right-handed hitters to a league-low .124 average.

Rockies: RHP German Marquez (3-2, 3.86 ERA) will be the third straight rookie the Rockies have sent out against St. Louis in this series. He’s 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA over his last three starts.

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