CHICAGO – Mike Matheny looked at Adam Wainwright’s run over the past five years and summed it up with one word.
“Wow,” he said.
Wainwright joined Clayton Kershaw as the majors’ only 20-game winners, pitching three-hit ball over seven innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-0 on Monday night.
“I hope he realizes how special that is,” Matheny said. “He’s in a very elite group.”
Wainwright hit the 20-win mark for the second time while matching his career-high for victories, and the Cardinals moved a step closer toward their second straight division title.
They remained 2½ games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central with five to play with the Pirates beating Atlanta 1-0. St. Louis clinched its fourth straight playoff appearance on Sunday.
Wainwright’s run the past five years has been nothing short of jaw-dropping. Twice during that span he has won 20.
Two more times he finished with 19 victories, and he hasn’t won fewer than 14 in that stretch.
“It’s a tremendous honor, obviously,” Wainwright said about winning 20. “But more important, it’s a big win for our team.”
Wainwright (20-9) won his fifth straight start and made it look easy, striking out eight and walking one.
He gave up a double to Anthony Rizzo with two outs in the first and did not allow another hit until back-to-back singles by Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo with two outs in the seventh.
Just like Kershaw did for the Dodgers on Friday, Wainwright picked up his 20th win at Wrigley Field. And when he did it in 2010, victory No. 20 that year also came at the famed old ballpark.
He got plenty of support in this one, with the Cardinals pounding Travis Wood (8-13) for seven runs and eight hits over five innings.
St. Louis scored four in the fourth and three in the fifth on the way to their eighth win in 10 games.
Matt Holliday had two hits and scored two runs. He also drove in one.
Matt Adams chipped in with two hits and two RBIs. Jon Jay added two hits and drove in three, capping a four-run fourth with a two-run single to make it 4-0.
Giants 5, Dodgers 2 (13)
In Los Angeles, Andrew Susac delivered a pinch-hit single in the 13th to break a tie and Gregor Blanco had a two-run double to lead San Francisco past the Dodgers.
Pirates 1, Braves 0
In Atlanta, Andrew McCutchen homered, Francisco Liriano won his fourth straight start and Pittsburgh moved closer to a postseason berth, beating the Braves.
The Pirates, winners in 10 of their last 12, have a five-game lead over Milwaukee with six games remaining for both teams. Any combination of two Pittsburgh wins or Brewers losses will guarantee the Pirates at least a spot in the NL wild-card game for the second straight year.
McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, hit his 24th home run in the sixth off starter Aaron Harang.
Padres 1, Rockies 0
In San Diego, Eric Stults pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Padres won their fifth straight game by beating Colorado.
Stults (8-17) scattered seven hits over 6⅓ innings in beating the Rockies for the first time this season after two defeats.