ST. LOUIS (AP) — The cheers started for Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina as they exited the bullpen before the game, with St. Louis fans standing on their feet to salute them for all they had accomplished together.
After the Finals in a 4-1 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night, it was time for the Cardinals to cover the record duo with a clubhouse celebration.
Wainwright and Molina started together for the 325th time, the most by one battery in major league history. The duo eclipsed the 324 regular season mark held by the Detroit Tigers pair of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan from 1963 to 1975.
“It’s a great feeling to be at the top of the list,” Molina said. “And to do it with Waino, an amazing human being, is just amazing.”
Wainwright added, “I don’t think anyone will break that record.”
Napkins with No. 325 were handed out to fans as they entered Busch Stadium, and the ovations and tributes kept coming.
“The crowd was so awesome, constantly giving me chills and tears,” Wainwright said.
“Usually when I get to the dugout after the warm-up, I’m very focused on my approach to the first batter,” he said. “But they were playing a video on the board and I thought, ‘you know, they’re probably not going to play cool videos anymore while I’m throwing that I can really understand.’ So might as well enjoy it for a minute.
Brewers point guard Christian Yelich also took advantage of the moment. The Milwaukee star stood absolutely still and made no attempt to swing Wainwright’s first pitch, a called strike.
“They deserve this moment of respect,” Yelich said. “It was cool to see the story.”
The ball was taken out of play, and then Wainwright and Molina got to work extending the Cardinals’ lead in the NL Central.
Wainwright and Molina made their first start together on April 6, 2007 in Houston. Wainwright recorded a 4-2 win in that game – the first of his 213 wins with Molina behind the plate.
Molina, 40, an eternal glove, has indicated he will retire at the end of this season. Wainwright, 41, has yet to make a decision about his future.
Wainwright (11-9) gave up just one run in five innings despite eight hits and two walks. He struck out three on 98 pitches.
Wainwright and Molina were doused with Cherry Coke, Sprite and apple juice by teammates during a lengthy post-game locker room celebration.
Molina gave his buddy a big defensive boost, throwing Kolten Wong trying to steal on the back of a strikeout to finish the third. Wainwright stoked Andrew McCutchen with a 74 mph curve and Molina still had Wong plenty.
Molina gave the Cardinals the lead for good with a deciding single in the second. It was his 31st career RBI go-ahead in a start from Wainwright.
Nolan Arenado and Lars Nootbaar both homered for the Cardinals, who won three of four. They extended their division lead to eight games against the second-placed Brewers.
Milwaukee rode a three-game winning streak and trailed San Diego two games in the race for the last wildcard spot in the NL.
Wainwright pitched 2,141 of his 2,553 innings at Molina. He and Molina combined to record 1,815 strikeouts.
Arenado hit his 29th homer in the second against Corbin Burnes (10-7).
Burnes allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Nootbaar pushed the lead to 3-1 with his 12th homer in fifth.
Albert Pujols scored an RBI double in the eighth. He remains at 697 career home runs, fourth on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds (755), Hank Aaron (714) and Babe Ruth (715).
Pujols was hit in the right shoulder by Burnes’ throw in the sixth, but stayed in the fight.
Ryan Helsley made his 17th save in 21 chances.
Yelich had two hits for the Brewers, who spent 92 days in first place in the NL Central earlier this season.
NHL great Wayne Gretzky sat front row during the game. Gretzky played 18 games with the St. Louis Blues in 1995-96 and maintains a home in the area.
Brewers: RHP Matt Bush is listed day to day after being taken out in the first inning of Tuesday’s game with right groin discomfort. He only threw 15 pitches. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said Bush will not be on the injured list.
Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (6-9, 4.61) will face New York Yankees RHP Frankie Montas (5-12, 3.89) in the first of a three-game series Friday in Milwaukee. Houser has just six quality starts in 18 starts this season. The Brewers are 7-11 in games he started.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (11-11, 3.42) takes on Cincinnati RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 9.00) in the first of a five-game series Thursday at St. Louis. Mikolas is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA in 15 appearances against the Reds.
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