ST. LOUIS — With his final season winding down, Adam Wainwright was stuck on 198 wins for nearly three months.
And then in a span of seven days, he found that old form and reached a major milestone.
Wainwright earned his 200th win, pitching seven innings of four-hit ball in a vintage performance as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 on Monday night.
“For at least a night I was a real pitcher out there, the guy that I want to be,” said Wainwright, who plans to retire after the season. “Seven innings, shutout, a couple of hits, got through a couple of tough ABs out there and made adjustments, worked in and out, up and down.”
It was the longest outing this season for the 42-year-old Wainwright (5-11), who struck out three and walked two. He has won consecutive starts — both against first-place teams — after going 0-10 with a 10.72 ERA over his previous 11 games between June 24 and Sept. 7.
“That’s as good as we’ve seen,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “If you talked to him right before the game, and if he’s being really honest, he was being held up by duct tape before the game started, and for him to go out there and do what he did is highly impressive.”
The right-hander became the 38th pitcher in NL history to reach 200 wins, and the 24th major leaguer to achieve the milestone since 2000.
Wainwright said the feeling was comparable to his emotions while closing out the 2006 World Series as a rookie reliever.
“Tonight, for me, this is tied for first,” he said.
Willson Contreras homered off Freddy Peralta (12-9) in the fourth. Milwaukee lost its second straight, and its magic number to clinch the NL Central remained at seven. The Brewers hold a six-game lead over the Chicago Cubs with 12 to play.
Contreras was especially emotional about Wainwright once the game ended.
“I know he’s been battling a lot of stuff and he’s been pitching the best that he can this year,” Contreras said. “And I’m glad that he was able to reach out to reach the 200 mark on wins. And I’m glad that I was back behind the plate for him.”
John King induced a double play in the eighth and Ryan Helsley worked 1 1/3 innings for his 12th save in 16 opportunities.
Wainwright got Carlos Santana to ground into a pair of double plays and left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 33,176 after pitching around a leadoff single by Mark Canha in the seventh.
“I didn’t want to tip my hat or anything because I didn’t know if I was done,” Wainwright said. “But I did feel that crowd and it was a special walk off.”
Wainwright’s first strikeout of the game, against Rowdy Tellez, was the 2,200th of his career. His last two punchouts moved him past David Wells for 65th on the all-time list.
“He just kept guys off balance,” Marmol said. “He didn’t have what he had last time as far as the (velocity) being there, but there weren’t a whole lot of comfortable swings or hard-hit balls for the most part. He went through that lineup and was in control the whole time. It was just fun to watch him out there competing.”
Contreras lined a sinker from Peralta just inside the left-field foul pole for his 20th home run of the season.
Peralta gave up four hits in six innings and struck out six.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today, but it worked," he said.
Sal Frelick had two singles for the Brewers and robbed Tommy Edman of an extra-base hit with a running catch in deep center field. Frelick caught the ball on a full sprint and held on after crashing into the wall.
“We didn’t do a very good job offensively,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “(Wainwright) kind of got into a rhythm and quick innings and we didn’t put any pressure on him.”
AGE IS ONLY A NUMBER
Wainwright became the oldest Cardinals pitcher with an outing of seven or more scoreless innings. He surpassed Jim Kaat, who was 41 when he threw a 10-inning shutout in June 1980.
St. Louis surpassed 3 million in attendance for the 18th straight season unaffected by limited capacity, and for the 25th time overall.
The Brewers recalled RHP Colin Rea from Triple-A Nashville, while the Cardinals recalled RHP Jake Woodford from Triple-A Memphis.
Brewers: OF Christian Yelich (stiff back) missed his third straight game. Counsell said a decision on Yelich’s status will likely be made Tuesday. The team also placed RHP Thyago Vieira (right calf strain) on the 15-day injured list.
Cardinals: RHP Giovanny Gallegos (rotator cuff tendinitis) was placed on the 15-day IL.
The Cardinals will start LHP Drew Rom (1-2, 5.96 ERA) in the second of a four-game series Tuesday night against the Brewers, who counter with RHP Trevor Megill (1-0, 3.13). Rom earned his first career win in his last start, pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Baltimore. Megill is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five career appearances against the Cardinals, all in relief.