ST. LOUIS — Growing up in Sterling, Ill., Mike Foltynewicz was a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan who adored pitcher Adam Wainwright.
On Sunday, Foltynewicz beat the team and pitcher of his childhood dreams.
Tossing six solid innings and even pitching in with a hit off Wainwright, Foltynewicz led the Atlanta Braves to a 6-3 win at Busch Stadium.
In upping his record to 5-5, Foltynewicz allowed six hits and a run, walking two and fanning four. He pitched in and out of trouble most of his stint, recording just one clean inning but holding St. Louis hitless in nine at-bats with men in scoring position.
“It was a grind most of the day,” Foltynewicz said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but I battled all day from pitch one to pitch (105). It was awesome to pitch well in St. Louis. It was a very special moment.”
A first round pick of the Houston Astros in 2010, Foltynewicz has looked like a potential staff ace at times. He didn’t overpower many hitters in this one, but saved his best pitches for when the Cardinals put him in jams.
After walking Kolten Wong and allowing a single to Stephen Piscotty to start the first, Foltynewicz retired the next three hitters, helped by Ender Inciarte’s running catch at the center field wall of a Brandon Moss drive.
In the second, Foltynewicz wriggled out of a bases-loaded spot, inducing an inning-ending forceout from Piscotty. And in the third, Moss’ leadoff double was erased when Foltynewicz got three quick outs.
“He fought through it and took another step forward,” Atlanta interim manager Brian Snitker said of Foltynewicz.
Meanwhile, Wainwright (9-6) was shelled for the second time this year by the Braves, who collected five runs off him in an April start. The damage was worse in the rematch.
A pitch away from a clean first inning, Wainwright walked Freddie Freeman. Atlanta followed with a Matt Kemp double, a two-run single from Nick Markakis, Adonis Garcia’s single and an RBI single by Jace Peterson for a 3-0 lead.
Piling on in the second, the Braves made it 6-0. Erick Aybar pulled a two-run triple into the right field corner and Kemp drove in the last run two batters later on a fielder’s choice grounder.
Symbolizing how the day went for Foltynewicz and his idol, Wainwright gave up a hit to his counterpart on an 0-2 curve to start that outburst.
“I had a hunch I’d see a curveball, so I saw it pop up there and just tried to put it in play,” Foltynewicz said.
While Wainwright did collect himself to last six innings, he still allowed nine hits and six runs, walking three and fanning three in losing to the team that drafted him for only the third time in 17 career outings.
St. Louis’ lone run off Foltynewicz came in the fifth when Moss lined a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Kolten Wong.
The Cardinals touched reliever Madison Younginer, making his big league debut, for two runs in the eighth on a two-out RBI double by Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina’s run-scoring single. Pressing the issue further, St. Louis pushed the tying run to the plate before Eric O’Flaherty came on and induced an inning-ending groundout from Greg Garcia.
Jim Johnson rolled through the ninth inning on 10 pitches, striking out two for his eighth save of the year.
Atlanta (41-70) is 8-4 in its last 12 games, while the Cardinals (58-53) fell a half-game behind Miami for the National League’s second wild-card spot, pending the outcome of the Marlins’ game in Colorado.
The result continued St. Louis’ season-long trend of losing at home, where it is 26-32. Six games through a nine-game stretch against two last-place teams in the Braves and Cincinnati, the Cardinals are 2-4.
“We’re consistently inconsistent,” Moss said. “That’s all there is to it.”
NOTES: St. Louis 2B Matt Carpenter, who came off the 15-day DL Friday after missing a month with a right oblique strain, wasn’t in Sunday’s lineup. Manager Mike Matheny took him out Saturday night after five innings, saying something didn’t look right, but downplayed fears of a reoccurance on his radio show Sunday morning. … Atlanta selected the contract of RHP Madison Younginer from Triple-A Gwinnett and designated OF Brandon Snyder for assignment. … Cardinals C Yadier Molina (right hand contusion), who left Saturday night’s game after absorbing a foul tip, was back in the lineup Sunday.