SAN DIEGO (AP) — After a slow start to his season that included four straight losses, 34-year-old Clayton Richard is looking strong for the San Diego Padres.
Richard matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in eight brilliant innings for his first win in more than a month, and the Padres beat struggling Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 Sunday to salvage a split of their four-game series. Wainwright said afterward that he re-aggravated an elbow injury that had landed him on the disabled list.
Richard (2-5) held the Cardinals to two runs and five hits while walking only one to win for the first time since April 9 at Colorado. He then had a no-decision and four straight losses.
“He’s been big for us in a lot of different ways, from a leadership standpoint, from an innings standpoint, from a win standpoint,” manager Andy Green said. “It’s a big win for us today. That gave us a split after being down two-nothing.”
Richard said it was important to go deep into the game because Saturday night’s game went 13 innings before the Padres won 2-1.
“You know the situation both clubs are in, having had a game like that last night. So you want to do everything you can to stay in the game as long as you can. Fortunately today it worked out for us that way.”
Richard has been plagued by poor run support, with the Padres scoring no runs for the big left-hander in four of his previous eight starts. Included was his last start, when he pitched three-hit ball for eight innings and struck out eight but lost 4-0 to Washington.
Richard got enough backing Sunday thanks to Wainwright’s wildness. The 36-year-old right-hander was activated from the 10-day disabled list after a bout with right elbow inflammation and walked six in just 2 1/3 innings, throwing 79 pitches. He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out three.
Richard got into trouble only in the sixth, when he walked Tommy Pham and then allowed an RBI triple by Harrison Bader and an RBI single by Jose Martinez.
Otherwise, he was throwing his slider well enough to match his career strikeout high set June 30, 2010, against Colorado.
Wainwright (1-3) threw 33 pitches in the first inning, loading the bases with two outs on a single and two walks, but didn’t yield any runs.
He wasn’t as lucky in the third. He walked the bases loaded with one out and then allowed a single by Cory Spangenberg and was pulled in favor of John Gant. Freddy Galvis followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Padres added on in the fourth with three hits against Gant, with Jose Pirela hitting an RBI double and Franchy Cordero following with an RBI single.
Brad Hand struggled through the ninth for his 11th save in 13 opportunities. Hand allowed Bader’s leadoff homer, his third, and then loaded the bases with one out, on two walks and a hit batter. He struck out Carson Kelly and Kolten Wong to end it.
Wainwright said he re-aggravated his elbow problem on the third-to-last warmup pitch.
“It’s tough. If I’m able to go out there and make pitches and put my arm in the position where it allows me to execute, then I will take my chances against anyone,” he said. “But I wasn’t able to execute, so I was falling behind and I didn’t want to give in, so I was walking some guys.
“Luckily we got through the first two innings, got out of a couple of jams. But if you keep putting yourself you in binds, it’s going to be tough.”
He couldn’t locate his fastball or throw his good cutter.
“I need to pause and get it right,” Wainwright said. “This team deserves more than that and the fans deserve more than that and the organization does, too. If I’m going to be a force down the stretch, I need to get healthy first. Luckily we have a lot of young guys primed for this position.”
Said manager Mike Matheny: “That’s not the pitcher he wants to be. It’s the pitcher he had to be today but that’s not the pitcher he wants to be.”
“He was lobbying for the ninth. I tried to explain to him, a guy who was valedictorian of his high school class, that I was pinch-hitting for him at the time he was lobbying for the opportunity to stay in the game,” Green said of Richard. “His competitive nature won out over his intellect for a moment.”
Padres: Placed RHP Phil Maton on the 10-day disabled list with a right lat strain and recalled RHP Kazuhisa Makita from Triple-A El Paso.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (0-1, 3.60) is scheduled to start Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game series at Minnesota, which counters with RHP Jose Berrios (3-4, 4.50).
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 2.98) is scheduled to start the opener of a two-game series Monday night against Colorado, which counters with LHP Tyler Anderson (2-1, 4.23).