Wainwright beats former team, helps Cards win series

" Hero: Wainwright beat his former team with seven sharp innings. The Georgia native is 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break.

" Almost even: The Cardinals moved to one game under .500 with the victory. St. Louis has not reached .500 since they were 6-6 on April 16.

" Quotable: "We've still got a ways to go but we've played ourselves back into contention." -- Wainwright.

-- ESPN.com news services

Cardinals 4, Braves 1

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright has dominated most of his foes
since the All-Star break. He's been especially tough on the team
from his home state.

Wainwright, who is from St. Simon, Ga., beat Atlanta for the
second straight start with seven sharp innings, Juan Encarnacion
homered and the St. Louis Cardinals handed the Braves their fifth
loss in six games, 4-1 on Sunday.

Wainwright is 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA in nine starts since the
break. On Sunday, he held the Braves to a run and six hits with a
walk and five strikeouts, a near mirror image of his July 20
victory at Atlanta, when he also held the Braves to a run and six
hits in seven innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts.

"I've got a bunch of guys I keep very close contact with and
they're still some of my best friends in the world over there,"
Wainwright said. "So, some bragging rights the last two times in
my favor."

Yadier Molina and So Taguchi each drove in a run in a three-run
fifth off Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2) for the Cardinals, who took two of
three in the series. The defending World Series champions are one
game below .500 for the second time during a 4-2 homestand. The
Cardinals have not reached .500 since they were 6-6 on April 16.

"The thing about that is, all the people we were pronounced
dead to were not in this clubhouse," Wainwright told reporters.
"They're in here now, all of you guys are in here.

"We've still got a ways to go but we've played ourselves back
into contention."

St. Louis is now two games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL

"I just know we have more plusses than problems, and that
hasn't been true quite a bit of the year," manager Tony La Russa
said. "So we're having some fun."

Mark Teixeira had two hits and Brian McCann had an RBI single in
the sixth for the Braves, who began the day a season-worst seven
games back in the NL East, and are 0-7 in Reyes' starts. The Braves
played without Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones, both nursing minor
injuries, and remained four games behind the San Diego Padres in
the wild-card race.

"It's real simple when you get right down to it," manager
Bobby Cox said. "You have to win some ballgames and some other
teams have to lose some, and you keep grinding."

For the second straight day, the Cardinals had a big fifth after
four scoreless innings. St. Louis, 12-4 in its last 16 at home,
rallied for five runs in the fifth against Tim Hudson on Saturday.

Wainwright (12-9) has a pair of seven-inning starts against the
Braves this season, giving up one run each time. He scattered six
hits on Sunday, and in 17 innings overall against Atlanta has given
up two runs with 17 strikeouts.

Jason Isringhausen worked a perfect ninth for his 27th save in
29 chances, and fourth during the homestand. It was the 200th
career save for Isringhausen, who struggled last year, then
underwent hip surgery in September and missed the postseason.

"That just goes to show you what a healthy Izzy can do,"
Wainwright said. "Look at his numbers this year, they're crazy."

Reyes has an 8.31 ERA in seven starts, and was recalled from
Triple-A Richmond five days before his latest outing. He worked six
innings and gave up four runs -- two earned -- and seven hits with
five strikeouts and no walks.

Reyes' best success has come against the Cardinals, who managed
one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings against the rookie
left-hander on July 22. Right-handed hitters came into the game
batting above .300 against Reyes, left-handers just .167, and St.
Louis stacked its lineup with all right-handed hitters and

"I think this is my best outing up here," Reyes said. "You
can't worry about the win or loss, you've just got to worry about
making every pitch count."

Third baseman Chris Woodward's two-out fielding error led to two
unearned runs in the Cardinals' three-run fifth. Woodward was
unable to glove Brendan Ryan's two-out grounder just to his left,
allowing one run to score, and Taguchi followed with a run-scoring
single for a 3-0 lead.

Ryan Ludwick's single, his second hit of the day, started the
inning, and he scored on Molina's double into the left-field

Teixeira doubled with two outs and scored on McCann's single in
the sixth and Encarnacion, who had been 2-for-14 during the
homestand, led off the bottom half with his ninth homer. Teixeira
had two hits and is 14-for-32 (.438) with five homers during an
eight-game hitting streak.

Game notes

Cardinals SS David Eckstein did not play after being hit in
his right index finger by a pitch while squaring to bunt on
Saturday. ... Mark Mulder made his third rehab start for Class A
Palm Beach, working four innings and allowing one run and two hits
while throwing 54 pitches. Mulder, rehabbing from rotator cuff
surgery last September, should join the team after rosters can be