Cards fall as Wainwright struggles

Cards fall as Wainwright struggles

LOS ANGELES -- An out-of-sorts Adam Wainwright searched fruitlessly on Tuesday night. He searched for his proper delivery, and for even one pitch he could rely on.

Neither was anywhere to be found, as Wainwright endured the worst game of his Major League career. The Cardinals fell to the Dodgers, 9-7, at Dodger Stadium, and Wainwright was slapped with eight runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. He issued four walks and hit a batter as well.

"I really don't know what to say," Wainwright said. "I was embarrassed, I know that. My delivery was horrible today, and I'm pretty sure when I watch the tape back, [I'll see that] my mound presence was, too."

Even with the Cardinals' offense breaking out for a second straight night, the hole Wainwright dug was too deep for St. Louis to escape. For Wainwright, the rocky game spoiled a bit of positive momentum he had begun to develop in consecutive solid starts. His ERA ballooned to 6.34, as he was stuck with the highest run total of his career as well as his shortest stint as a starting pitcher.

He acknowledged after the game that he's been dealing with tendinitis in his pitching arm for several starts, but said that on Tuesday he was feeling better. Likely, his mercurial mechanics resulted from pitching while not feeling right.

"Today was the first day since the first game of the year that I've felt my arm good and that I've felt strong," Wainwright said. "It's the first start since the very first start that I haven't gone on the mound thinking about something ailing me.

"I don't know if that was the cause of some of my delivery problems. I don't know. That's the only positive that I can really take out of this game, other than that my team kept me in it."

The problem early for the right-hander was free passes -- later, it was hard contact. Throughout, he left sinkers up and watched breaking pitches hang.

With two outs and a runner on first in the first inning, Wainwright walked the bases loaded, then brought home a run by hitting Russell Martin with a pitch. Andre Ethier knocked a two-run single, and Wainwright walked Andy LaRoche before he retired Derek Lowe to end the inning.

Wainwright worked a mostly uneventful second, though. And in the top of the third, he was handed a 4-3 lead.

Rather than locking down, though, he got in trouble again. Three straight hits tied the score, and another walk to LaRoche loaded the bases. Rafael Furcal tripled to make it 7-4, and the Dodgers never looked back. Furcal enjoyed his third straight four-hit game.

"I made pitches inside on him to back him off the plate," Wainwright said. "The only good curveball I threw all day, he hit in the gap. That was the only good pitch I threw to him, and that was the only good curveball I threw today."

The game did feature plenty of positive signs on offense for St. Louis, which got contributions at the plate from throughout the batting order.

David Eckstein had two hits to follow his three-hit game on Monday. Scott Rolen smoked an RBI double and scored two runs, and Albert Pujols notched his first and second RBI hits on the road trip. Even spot starter Ryan Ludwick had his best game as a Cardinal, driving in two runs with three singles.

By following up Monday's eight-run outburst with seven on Tuesday, the Cardinals equaled their two-game high for the season. It's only the second time in 2007 that they have scored five or more runs twice in a row.

"Everybody knows that we can hit," said Yadier Molina, who went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to nine games. "We've been struggling lately, but it's still a long season. We're going to get there. The last two games, the offense has been there."

St. Louis closed within two runs against left-handed Hong-Chih Kuo in the seventh inning, but it got no closer. After Molina's RBI single made it 9-7, Dodgers manager Grady Little summoned Jonathan Broxton. The hard-throwing youngster struck out Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles with two men on, ending the last Cardinals threat.

"That was hellacious, to fight our way back into that thing," manager Tony La Russa said. "We had a chance in the seventh -- first and third, one out and two good fastball hitters. And Broxton, the job he did, and [Takashi] Saito, that was very impressive."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.