ST. LOUIS » When Cardinals manager Mike Matheny came to the mound in the seventh inning, Adam Wainwright focused on recording another out.
Matheny left his ace in for one more hitter with two on and Wainwright responded with one more big pitch, and then left the mound with a whoop in a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
"That was a couple weeks of frustration built up, just not making a pitch when I needed to," Wainwright said. "He just came out and gave me a little pep talk.
"He’s a motivational speaker guy, he’s very good at that."
Yoenis Cespedes took a third strike on a full-count curveball and catcher Tony Cruz sprinted to the dugout before home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom raised his right arm.
"He’s one of the top pitchers and when they get into trouble they find ways to get out of it," Boston’s Dustin Pedroia said. "That’s what he did. That’s why he’s one of the best."
Wainwright recovered from a shaky start to earn his 14th win, tying for the major league lead, and rookie Kolten Wong homered twice.
"He’s got really impressive bat speed, always has," Matheny said of Wong. "You don’t have to cheat. You just take the head of the bat to the ball and watch it jump."
Jhonny Peralta’s two-run double keyed a three-run first off Brandon Workman and Wong had his first multihomer game. The Cardinals took two of three from their stripped-down opponents, who beat them in the World Series last fall but are in last place in the AL East.
"That first inning is kind of notorious in his career," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Workman.
Wainwright (14-6) needed 66 pitches to slog through the first three innings after the start was delayed by rain for more than an hour for the second straight night. The 6-foot-7 right-hander retired 11 in a row before the seventh.
Wainwright has won at least 14 games each of the last three seasons. Wily Peralta won his 14th game earlier Thursday for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who are a game ahead of St. Louis.
Workman (1-5) retired nine straight before Wong lined a 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall with one out in the fifth to put the Cardinals up 4-2. Wong then added his ninth homer in the seventh, a 423-foot shot off Craig Breslow.
Mike Napoli and Christian Vasquez each drove in a run in the third, Wainwright’s roughest inning. He had seven strikeouts and allowed seven hits, four of them in the third.
R.B. Fallstrom, Associated Press