ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t beat the Boston Red Sox last October.
On Thursday night, however, Wainwright got a bit of revenge for two World Series losses. The right-hander pitched seven strong innings, and St. Louis took the rubber game in the rematch of last year’s Fall Classic 5-2 at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (14-6) scattered seven hits and allowed two runs, walking two and fanning seven as he tied the Milwaukee Brewers’ Wily Peralta for the most wins in the National League. Wainwright threw 122 pitches, his last a curve for a called third strike on left fielder Yoenis Cespedes with men at first and second.
Second baseman Kolten Wong led the Cardinals’ offense, going 3-for-4 with two solo homers. His second blast, a two-out, 423-foot shot off reliever Craig Breslow in the seventh, earned Wong a curtain call from the sellout crowd of 44,570.
With major league saves leader Trevor Rosenthal unavailable after pitching in four consecutive games, Pat Neshek filled in as closer and pitched a clean ninth for his third save. St. Louis (61-52) won for the fourth time in five games and stayed a game behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Brandon Workman (1-5) gave up six hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings for Boston, walking two and whiffing five. It was the 12th loss in 15 games for the Red Sox (50-64).
Following a 64-minute rain delay before the first pitch, St. Louis got going offensively in the bottom of the first. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta drilled a two-out, two-run double to right-center, scoring third baseman Matt Carpenter and Wong. Right fielder Oscar Taveras followed with an RBI single to right for a 3-0 lead.
Boston cut the deficit to one in the third with four singles. First baseman Mike Napoli, inserted into the lineup after David Ortiz was scratched during the delay, knocked in right fielder Brock Holt with the first run. Catcher Christian Vazquez produced the second run with a two-out hit up the middle.
Wong gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead in the fifth with a two-out solo homer to right, his eighth of the year.
NOTES: Entering Thursday, Boston rookies made a major-league-high 306 starts, including an big-league-high 102 from SS Xander Bogaerts. … When St. Louis starts a three-game series Friday night in Baltimore, it will be just the second time in team history the Cardinals will play there and only the third time they ever met the Orioles. St. Louis RHP Justin Masterson (1-0) faces RHP Chris Tillman (8-5) in the opener. … Boston opens a weekend series against the Angels on Friday, with Red Sox RHP Allen Webster (1-1) facing RHP Jered Weaver (12-6). … Through Wednesday, the Red Sox led the majors in number of pitches seen with 17,443. They were averaging 4.03 pitches per plate appearance, also tops in MLB.