Wainwright uneven in Cardinals’ victory over Tigers

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Before St. Louis’ 9-5 victory over Detroit on Wednesday, pitcher Adam Wainwright felt he was ready for the start of the season.

After allowing four runs — three earned — in 42⁄3 innings, Wainwright welcomed an upcoming outing against Cardinals minor leaguers as a final tune-up for the regular season.

“I was not good, that’s for sure,” Wainwright said. “That’s the good thing about spring training, I have four days to go out and work on some stuff and get back and be ready for my next turn.”

Fighting an out-of-sync delivery that caused him to leave the ball up much of the afternoon, Wainwright allowed his first earned runs of the spring in the third. Jhonny Peralta broke the scoreless tie with a single to right, driving in Austin Jackson. Two batters later Brennan Boesch and Jackson scored on Andy Dirks’ single to center.

Coming off of ligament replacement surgery that forced him to miss all of 2011, Wainwright had pitched 161⁄3 innings without allowing an earned run.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny wasn’t surprised Wainwright finally plodded through a tough outing.

“What wouldn’t be expected is all the outings we’ve seen up to this point — that he competes and thinks his way through things when he doesn’t have his best stuff. That’s pitching,” Matheny said.

Wainwright attributed the poor outing more to the extended lay-off following the surgery, adding his surgically repaired arm felt fine.

“I don’t know if it’s good for anything other than it refocuses me,” Wainwright said. “It shows me that I’ve got more work to do.”

Matheny said Wainwright won’t accompany the team when they travel to Springfield for an exhibition against their Class AA club Monday. Instead, Wainwright will throw in Jupiter, either in a minor league spring training game or in a simulation against live batters.

Drew Smyly, Wainwright’s mound counterpart for Detroit, also lasted 42⁄3 innings, allowing three earned runs against a St. Louis line-up that could be the one Matheny uses on opening day.

The Cardinals scored their first run when Carlos Beltran’s liner ricocheted off Smyly’s left foot into foul ground on the first base side, allowing Wainwright to score. One batter later Furcal scored on Matt Holliday’s ground out to short.

Tyler Greene supplied the final run off Smyly, smacking his second home run of the spring to lead off the fifth.

The Cardinals used a three-run seventh to pull away for the victory, their eighth in a 10 game stretch that also includes a tie.

On the injury front, Matheny said the club wants to ensure they are not pushing Allen Craig too quickly as he tries to return from off-season knee surgery. While Craig could still be on the opening day roster, Matheny made it sound as though it’s more likely Craig would start the season on the DL in an effort to ensure he would be available for the final 150 games of the year.

Skip Schumaker (oblique) threw with Cardinal teammates prior to the game, but has yet to hit the ball. Schumaker is almost assured of starting the season on the DL.

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