Wainwright struggles with control

Wainwright struggles with control

JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright wasn't the only Cardinals pitcher who was a bit erratic on Friday. He was just the most visible -- and the only one who paid for it.

On a day when six St. Louis pitchers enjoyed scoreless outings, Wainwright was touched for four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He didn't permit a home run and walked only one, and he got 10 outs on the ground. But he wasn't at his best, five days after pitching beautifully against the Mets.

"He wasn't sharp," said manager Tony La Russa. "I told [pitching coach Dave Duncan], 'We pitched seven shutout innings, but we really didn't pitch sharp.' Almost everybody that went out there was kind of all around and up quite a bit."

Wainwright pointed to his control of his fastball as the main culprit, and that's a pretty big problem. He fell behind in too many counts, putting him in vulnerable situations and allowing Baltimore hitters to tee off on him.

"This was kind of a weird start for me, because I've been feeling stronger and stronger as I went," he said. "My arm felt great today. My offspeed was fine. Fastball command was all it was today. I definitely was battling out there."

The right-hander, who signed a new four-year contract on Thursday, has one Spring Training start remaining before he takes the ball on Opening Day against Colorado.

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