BALTIMORE (AP) — Adam Wainwright moved one step closer to a big milestone for St. Louis.
John Means showed he may be able to help Baltimore down the stretch.
Both starting pitchers could take some positives from this matchup Tuesday night. Wainwright pitched five solid innings for his 199th win, helping the Cardinals beat the Orioles 5-2. Means made his first appearance since having Tommy John surgery last April. He went five innings as well, although he allowed a couple homers.
“I don’t really believe in moral victories, to be honest with you,” Means said. “I wanted to get the win today, but I just didn’t quite pitch well enough.”
Richie Palacios homered in his first two plate appearances after entering the game as a pinch runner for an injured Nolan Gorman in the second. It was that kind of night for the Cardinals. Wainwright (4-11) snapped a seven-start losing streak and a run of 11 in a row without a victory. The 42-year-old right-hander, who is retiring after this season, allowed two runs and seven hits.
“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight my stuff was better,” Wainwright said. “Had better action on my pitches, better mindset, attacked better. That’s a great team over there, so I’m glad we won.”
It was a frustrating loss for the Orioles, but they remained three games ahead of second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East when the Rays lost at Minnesota. On this night, the big question for Baltimore was how Means (0-1) would pitch in his return.
He allowed homers to Paul Goldschmidt in the first and Palacios in the fourth, but he made it through five innings allowing only four hits. He could be an X-factor for the Orioles down the stretch as they try to manage their inexperienced rotation.
“I had a lot more nerves out there in the first inning than I usually do,” Means said. “Felt like the debut again. Once I got out there and started pitching again, it felt natural.”
The Cardinals are last place in the NL Central, but they helped Wainwright move within one win of a big milestone. Giovanny Gallegos, Matthew Liberatore, John King and Ryan Helsley pitched in relief, with Helsley earning his ninth save.
Taking the mound with a 1-0 lead in the first, Wainwright immediately walked the first two hitters, but he escaped that jam.
“I was just setting up the force at third,” Wainwright joked.
Jordan Walker added a sacrifice fly in the second and Palacios homered to make it 3-0 in the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, Wainwright got out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation when James McCann grounded into a double play. Baltimore finally scored a couple runs off him in the fifth when Anthony Santander hit an RBI single and Ryan O’Hearn scored Gunnar Henderson by grounding into a force-out.
Palacios homered again in the seventh, and Lars Nootbaar made it 5-2 with an RBI single.
The Orioles put their first two batters on base in the seventh, but Cedric Mullins grounded into a double play and it was pretty clear this was not Baltimore’s night.
The Orioles went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Cardinals: Gorman hit an infield single in the second, then immediately left the game with right hamstring tightness. … C Willson Contreras exited in the sixth with a right hand contusion.
Orioles: Baltimore removed Means from the injured list before the game and optioned RHP Joey Krehbiel to Triple-A Norfolk.
Baltimore sends RHP Kyle Gibson (14-8) to the mound against LHP Drew Rom (0-2) on Wednesday night. The Orioles traded Rom to the Cardinals last month in the deal that brought RHP Jack Flaherty to Baltimore.