Adam Wainwright tossed 7 2/3 strong innings and handled the bat admirably to help the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies in the third installment of a four-game set from Coors Field.
Wainwright (17-9) went 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and yielded three runs on 10 hits while striking out eight batters. The Cards' ace has given up just four runs over his last 25 innings.
St. Louis increased its lead over Pittsburgh on top of the National League Central to two games after the Pirates fell to San Diego earlier on Wednesday.
"It's hard to ignore," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the pennant race. "We know what's going on in the rest of the league."
Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter each smacked a pair of hits with an RBI in the triumph, the Cardinals' ninth in their last 12 outings.
Tyler Chatwood (7-5) was tagged for four runs on eight hits over six innings in the loss.
The home team jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Wainwright recorded a single out. Corey Dickerson started with a single to right on the second pitch he saw and moved to third on a double by DJ LeMahieu. Troy Tulowitzki plated the pair with a single to right.
Wainwright helped himself in the third when he plated Daniel Descalso on a double to left. The Cards' pitcher then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Carpenter single to right to knot the score at 2-2.
The Cardinals took the lead one inning later. With Molina at third, Chatwood intentionally walked Descalso to get to Wainwright, who made him pay with a broken bat single past a diving LeMahieu at third.
Molina added a crucial insurance run for St. Louis in the fifth with a two-out single to right-center, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Colorado plated its final run in the home half of the sixth. Todd Helton started things off with a double and after Wainwright retired the next two batters, Charlie Blackmon muscled a double to left for a 4-3 score.
Wainwright put two on in the eighth before giving way to Trevor Rosenthal, who induced a ground ball from Blackmon for the final out of the frame. Edward Mujica then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth by fanning Helton for the final out and his 37th save of the season.
"I was betting on Todd delivering the big hit, like he had for years," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The Cardinals' magic number to clinch the division is down to nine ... Michael Cuddyer left the game with a right elbow contusion after diving to make a catch in the sixth inning. He is considered day-to-day ... Colorado outhit St. Louis, 12-10 ... All seven combined extra-base hits were doubles.