CHICAGO -- Sometimes it's difficult to remember that Adam Wainwright missed all of 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, especially after an impressive Spring Training in which he looked like his old self.
After opening 2012 with two rough starts, the Cardinals right-hander put together another impressive outing Tuesday, tossing six innings of one-run ball and striking out seven.
"His last two outings have been much better," manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday. "He's getting much closer to who Adam wants to be and he's got the ability to fight and make the most out of whatever he has. He looked good tonight and get better when he needed to."
Wainwright had a breakthrough with his curveball during his pregame bullpen session when he altered his grip on the ball. All of a sudden, it clicked for Wainwright, who remembered where he had his hand on the ball at that moment was how he had usually thrown his curveball.
"Along the way I think there'll be more little things like that as I go this year pitching that I'll remember," Wainwright said. "The way I used to do things, or the way I do things now, based on the way I used to do them. There was some things I remembered about the past tonight."
Vintage Wainwright came through in the fourth inning when, after Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair and left fielder Alfonso Soriano led off with a single and double, respectively, Wainwright bore down.
The right-hander struck out Ian Stewart and Darwin Barney before getting Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija to pop up for the third out.
Wainwright said a key in getting out of that fourth inning was locking himself in mentally -- something he prides himself on, but said he has been struggling with this year.
"Especially after that situation with second and third and no outs, I really had to buckle down there," Wainwright said. "Sometimes you need that little eye opener to get you started."