ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright bounced back from back-to-back sub-par outings with seven shutout innings and David Freese homered to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
The victory moved the Cardinals into first place, a half-game ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central with their third win in four games. Pittsburgh has lost four of six including the first two of the three-game set. The Pirates remain stuck on 81 wins, one shy of assuring them a winning record for the first time since they went 96-66 in 1992.
Wainwright (16-9) had given up 15 earned runs over his previous two starts, both against Cincinnati. He allowed a career-high nine runs in two innings of a 10-0 loss Aug. 28. But he regained his form against the Pirates allowing just two hits. He struck out eight and walked two.
Wainwright, who ended his performance with four successive strikeouts, is tied with Jordan Zimmermann of Washington and Jorge De La Rosa of Colorado for the most wins in the NL.
Freese drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who moved into sole possession of first place for the first time since Aug. 29. Matt Holliday, Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso also added RBIs.
Freese homered off reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the sixth to push the lead to 4-0.
Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke (9-5) allowed three runs on three hits over five innings. He was making his first start since Aug. 27. Locke was sent down to Double-A Altoona to clear his mind, but he did not make an appearance.
Yadier Molina started a two-run outburst in the fourth inning with a double that followed a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran. Freese then brought in Beltran with a sacrifice fly to left. Kozma added an infield single to bring in Molina.
Royals 4, Tigers 3: KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander and the Kansas City Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Perez drove a two-out pitch over the left-field wall to put the Royals ahead 4-2.
Verlander (12-11) is 0-3 with three no-decisions in six starts since an Aug. 6 victory at Cleveland.
The Tigers have dropped his past six starts and are 13-17 in his 30 starts this season.
The Royals have won all five games Verlander has started against them this season.
Wade Davis (7-10), the second of five Kansas City pitchers, picked up the victory on his 28th birthday.
Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his 39th save in 42 chances.
Phillies 2, Braves 1: PHILADELPHIA — Cody Asche hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and Cliff Lee outdueled fellow left-hander Mike Minor as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday night.
After surrendering a homer to Andrelton Simmons leading off the third inning, Lee (12-6) didn’t allow a hit through eight innings. He finished with 10 strikeouts without a walk, giving up just two hits.