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Tuesday July 28th, 2015 11:22AM

Wainwright leads Cardinals to 7-1 win over Braves

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Adam Wainwright was dominant on the mound.

He wasn't too shabby at the plate, either.

Wainwright pitched eight strong innings and helped himself offensively, outscoring Atlanta all by himself to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the Braves 7-1 on Wednesday night.

Matt Holliday drove in three runs and Peter Bourjos homered for the Cardinals.

Wainwright (6-2) bounced back from his worst start of the season, having surrendered 10 hits and six runs to the Chicago Cubs. He had no trouble against the struggling Braves, holding them to six hits and striking out six. He was lifted after 103 pitches.

But that was only part of the story. Wainwright had two hits to raise his average to .400 on the season, and came around to score both times.

"He said he was going to impress some people offensively," manager Mike Matheny said.

One night after breaking a seven-game losing streak, their longest in nearly two years, the Braves returned to a familiar pattern. Freddie Freeman's third-inning single drove home the lone run for an offensively challenged team that has scored more than four runs only once in its last 16 games.

Atlanta went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and was held to one run or fewer for the 13th time this season.

"We thought we had a little momentum after last night, then we run into a brick wall," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "He's tough. It seems like every time you go up there, he throws you something different in a different spot."

Bourjos hit his first homer of the season with two outs in the second off Mike Minor. Wainwright led off the third with a double and came around to score. Holliday blew it open with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.

Minor (0-2) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, roughed up for 11 hits and six runs in his second start back after starting the season on the disabled list.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Minor had trouble with his breaking pitches. Minor disagreed, saying he got sloppy with the command on his fastball the second time through the order. Whatever the case, the Cardinals seemed to know what was coming.

"It was not a very good performance by the guy on our side, and a really good performance by the guy on their side," Gonzalez said. "That's the result you get."

Minor ran into trouble throughout the Cardinals lineup. Up top, leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter reached base four times on three hits and a walk, scored twice and drove in a run. Holliday had three hits in the third spot, knocking in the final run with a single in the ninth off Luis Avilan.

Further down in the seventh spot, the light-hitting Bourjos had three hits and two RBIs after coming in with a .179 average, including a drive into the seats in left-center for his first career NL homer. Then there was Wainwright, one of the game's better-hitting pitches, doing plenty of damage in the nine hole.

The Braves went down meekly after their last threat in the sixth, when they failed to take advantage of runners at first and third with one out. Wainwright retired the last eight hitters he faced and wanted to go back out for a shot at his second complete game.

Matheny made it clear his pitcher was done.

"He had had enough of me," Wainwright quipped.

NOTES: RHP David Hale, who lost his spot in the Atlanta rotation when Minor returned from the DL, retired all eight hitters he faced after taking over in the fifth. ... Braves RHP Ervin Santana threw in the bullpen with no problems after missing a start because of an injured thumb. He will start Saturday against the Cubs. ... Matheny gave struggling 1B Allen Craig the day off and started Matt Adams. "When you're not right, you're not right," Matheny said, hoping a couple of days off would help Craig snap out of it. ... Both teams are off Thursday. The Cardinals will next play a weekend series at Pittsburgh, while the Braves are hosting the Cubs.
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