ST. LOUIS – As his final season drew to a close, Adam Wainwright was stuck on 198 wins for nearly three months.
And then, within seven days, he got back into that old form and hit a major milestone.
Wainwright earned his 200th victory, pitching seven innings with four hits in a vintage performance as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 on Monday night.
“For at least one night, I was a real pitcher, the guy I want to be,” said Wainwright, who plans to retire after the season. “Seven innings, shutout, a few hits, overcame some tough ABs and made adjustments, worked up and down.”
It was the longest outing this season for Wainwright, 42 (5-11), who struck out three and walked two. He won back-to-back starts – both against first-place teams – after going 0-10 with a 10.72 ERA in his previous 11 games between June 24 and September 7.
“It’s as good as we’ve seen,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “If you talked to him right before the game, and if he’s really honest, he was taped up before the game started, and for him to go out there and do what he did is very impressive.”
The right-hander became the 38th pitcher in National League history to reach 200 wins and the 24th major league player to reach the milestone since 2000.
He is the third pitcher in Cardinals history to reach 200 victories (Bob Gibson, Jesse Haines). And he is the fifth active pitcher to reach the mark (Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw); Johnny Cueto (144) and Gerrit Cole (143) are next on the victory list.
Wainwright said that feeling was comparable to his emotions as he closed out the 2006 World Series as a rookie reliever.
“Tonight, for me, is tied for first,” he said.
Willson Contreras hit Freddy Peralta (12-9) in the fourth. Milwaukee lost its second straight and its magic number to clinch the NL Central remained at seven. The Brewers hold a six-game lead over the Chicago Cubs with 12 to play.
Contreras was particularly emotional about Wainwright after the game ended.
“I know he fought through a lot of things and he did his best this year,” Contreras said. “And I’m happy that he was able to reach the 200-win mark. And I’m happy to be back behind the plate for him.”
John King induced a double play in the eighth and Ryan Helsley worked 1⅓ innings for his 12th save in 16 opportunities.
Wainwright allowed Carlos Santana to hit two double plays and leave to a standing ovation from the crowd of 33,176 after throwing in a leadoff single from Mark Canha in the seventh.
“I didn’t want to take my hat off or anything because I didn’t know if I was done,” Wainwright said. “But I felt that crowd and it was a special outing.”
Wainwright’s first strikeout, against Rowdy Tellez, was the 2,200th of his career. His last two punchouts moved him past David Wells for 65th place on the all-time list.
“He just kept the guys off balance,” Marmol said. “He didn’t have what he had last time as far as [velocity] being there, but there weren’t many comfortable swings or hard hit balls for the most part. He ran through that formation and was in control the entire time. It was just fun to watch him compete.”
Wainwright became the Cardinals’ oldest pitcher with an outing of seven or more scoreless innings. He surpassed Jim Kaat, who was 41 when he pitched a 10-inning shutout in June 1980.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.