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Wainwright sharp, Cardinals beat Braves 3-1

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Wainwright earned his NL-leading 15th win with his fifth complete game and had a key sacrifice fly to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Matt Holliday’s 432-foot home run off Kris Medlen (10-12) snapped a sixth-inning tie for St. Louis, which took the first two games of a four-game set against the NL East leaders.

Having already thrown 101 pitches, Wainwright was allowed to bat with the one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning and hit a long sacrifice fly off Scott Downs for his third RBI of the season to make it 3-1. He then retired the side in order in the eighth.

Medlen singled to lead off the sixth and scored on Freddie Freeman’s second hit of the game and retired 12 in a row at one point. But he allowed Holliday’s 17th homer on a liner deep into the left field stands. He’s lost his last two times out, including a relief appearance in a 15-inning game.

The Cardinals lost three in a row at Atlanta to start a seven-game losing streak in late July that knocked them out of the Central lead and entered the night a game behind Pittsburgh. Wainwright (15-7) took one of the losses in that series, but the Brunswick, Ga., native is 7-2 against the Braves.

Wainwright allowed a run on six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts, passing injured teammate Chris Carpenter for fourth on the franchise career list, and he has 16 career complete games. He’s worked seven or more innings seven straight starts and retired 10 in a row at one point.

He even got an assist from his manager. Mike Matheny, a former four-time Gold Glove catcher, took the warmup tosses from Wainwright before the ninth.

Yadier Molina had three hits with a pair of doubles to raise his NL-leading average to .337, five points ahead of the Braves’ Chris Johnson, who had a pair of singles.

Molina doubled and Jon Jay singled to open the seventh and chase Medlen. Downs got a brief reprieve earlier in the inning when a wild pitch ricocheted back to catcher Brian McCann.

The Braves’ Justin Upton was ejected in the sixth for arguing with home plate umpire Paul Nauert after a groundout, perhaps about a called third strike the previous at-bat.

Notes: Braves SS Andrelton Simmons made an outstanding sliding catch on Kolten Wong’s foul popup in the second. ... B.J. Upton snapped an 0-for-25 slump with a single in the second. ... Wainwright tied his career best for complete games in a season, also throwing five in 2010. He threw a season-high 128 pitches.

Cardinals place RHP Jake Westbrook on DL

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Right-hander Jake Westbrook is being placed on the 15-day disabled list by the St. Louis Cardinals because of a lower back strain.

The move, announced Friday, is retroactive to Thursday.

Manager Mike Matheny said rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons will take Westbrook’s spot in the rotation Monday against Cincinnati.

Rookie right-hander Carlos Martinez was recalled from Triple-A Memphis and will be used in relief.

The Cardinals do not believe the injury is season-ending and Westbrook said that’s the biggest reason to place him on the DL “to kind of knock it out, get me back to where I don’t have any of those nagging things, get back to full strength.”

Westbrook said he’s had minor back issues in the past and what team doctors told him was “not alarming.”

“When you’re sore, it’s hard to compete at this level,” Matheny said of Westbrook. “Tyler’s had a strong season and I just like where he is right now, what he brings to our club.”

In his past five starts, Westbrook has given up 30 earned runs in 26 innings and said the back injury made it difficult to finish pitches.

He was on the disabled list earlier this year with an elbow injury but said the elbow has felt “pretty good” lately.

“It’s really just more kind of aggravating,” said the 35-year-old Westbrook, who is 7-8 with a 4.49 ERA. “It’s one of the things that I’ve been just kind of fighting through.

“Just part of being old, I guess.”

Westbrook said it’s been a “grind” the past few seasons.

“It seems to be always something, but I try to battle through it and no excuses for me,” Westbrook said. “I never make any and I never will.”

Lyons won his first two career starts and is 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA in eight games, all but one of them starts. He’s 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 16 starts at Memphis.

The 21-year-old Martinez made his first career major league start on Aug. 8 against the Dodgers and is 0-1 in 11 games with St. Louis. He is 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 starts at Memphis and Matheny said he could be used in long relief.

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