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Wainwright carries Cards with his fifth CG of the season

Adam Wainwright fired his fifth complete game of the season en route to his National League-leading 15th win, as the St. Louis Cardinals clipped the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, on Friday in the second contest of a four-game set at Busch Stadium.

Wainwright (15-7) struck out nine and held the Braves to one run on six hits to secure his 16th career complete game and help the Cardinals claim their third straight victory and sixth in their last seven games.

"It has been a little while since I went a full nine, always good to do it," said Wainwright. "I felt like our team needed it tonight and we beat a very tough team, a very tough pitcher and we're excited to come away with a win."

Matt Holliday clubbed a tie-breaking solo shot in the sixth, Wainwright added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Yadier Molina finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of runs scored for the Cardinals, who stayed a game back of the NL Central-leading Pirates, who beat San Francisco on Friday.

Kris Medlen (10-12) pitched admirably in defeat, giving up three runs on six hits over six-plus frames to snap his four-start winning streak.

Freddie Freeman registered two of Atlanta's six hits and knocked in the only run of the game for the NL East-leading Braves, who have lost four of their last six games.

"We've seen him do that a lot," said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez regarding Wainwright. "He's a special guy and when he gets up on the mound, he can do what he did to us today."

St. Louis struck first in the second inning, as Molina stroked a leadoff double and scored when Jon Jay followed with a two-bagger of his own to make it 1-0.

Wainwright didn't allow a Brave to reach second base until the sixth, when Medlen led off with a single and moved to second on Jordan Schafer's sacrifice bunt.

Justin Upton's groundout moved Medlen to third and Freeman followed with a line-drive single to right to plate Medlen and knot the game at 1-1.

St. Louis got the run right back in the home half when Holliday launched a two-out blast into the seats in left field to make it 2-1.

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the seventh, as Molina scorched a leadoff double and Jay followed with a single to put men on the corners.

Scott Downs took over for Medlen and fanned pinch-hitter David Freese before walking Daniel Descalso to load the bases for Wainwright, who helped his own cause with a sac fly to center to make it 3-1.

Wainwright then retired the Braves in order in the eighth before working around a one-out single in the ninth to finish off his 128-pitch gem.

Game Notes

Wainwright has gone at least seven innings in seven straight starts. His five complete games this season tie a career high set during the 2010 campaign ... Prior to the game, St. Louis placed pitcher Jake Westbrook on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain and recalled right-hander Carlos Martinez from Triple-A Memphis ... Upton was ejected by home plate umpire Paul Nauert in the sixth inning ... Atlanta finished 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left five on base.