CINCINNATI -- Adam Wainwright is a thinking man's pitcher, constantly making adjustments and experimenting during games to gain an advantage over the hitters. So, after allowing 19 earned runs in 22 innings last season against the Cincinnati Reds, the 31-year-old Wainwright changed things up. And the Reds haven't scored against him since.
"Last year, I was a one-side-of-the-plate pitcher, and they just crushed it," Wainwright said. "I figured I should expect to get better with age, not decline as I got older and wiser. I've never felt like this."
Wainwright extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings while becoming the National League's first eight-game winner, allowing just five hits in eight innings in the Cardinals' 4-0 victory in the finale of a three-game series Sunday night at Great American Ball Park.
St. Louis (28-22) took two of three in the series against Cincinnati, improving to 10-1 in the previous 11 series against the Reds.
Wainwright (8-2) walked one and tied a career high with 12 strikeouts over his 117 pitches, while extending his scoreless streak against Cincinnati to 15 innings this season.
Wainwright kept the Reds guessing, as evidenced by his 66-mile-per-hour curve ball thrown to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who swung and missed then later flew to center in the eighth inning.
"I slowed it down to see what would happen," Wainwright said. "I was about to just float one up there in the 50s. He's so good, he might've deposited it (in the seats). I feel the flow of the game and see what they're trying to do. I'll pursue anything that keeps them off balance."
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart had two of the Reds' five hits off Wainwright on Sunday.
"He doesn't give you anything over the center of the plate to drive," Cozart said. "He might give you something you can single on, but he's like Johnny Cueto. He works the corners, and when he's behind in the count, he has a knack for hitting the corners."
Cincinnati starter Mike Leake (2-4) was the recipient of little run support again Sunday. Most of that can be attributed to Wainwright, but the Reds have scored six runs in Leake's previous five starts. Leake pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with two walks and tied a season high with eight strikeouts.
The Reds (22-26) have been shut out five times this season.
"He's really good, but I'm tired of talking about the other team's pitcher," said Reds manager Bryan Price when asked about Wainwright. "I do know our guys can hit, can produce runs, can hit situationally. I know that baseball's a game of frustration. I get that. I have no idea what the lineup is going to look like tomorrow. It may look different."
It was a one-run game until catcher Tony Cruz, who started behind the plate in place of resting Yadier Molina, delivered a two-out, RBI single putting the Cardinals ahead 2-0 in the sixth. "Tony was great, offensively and defensively," said Wainwright.
Third baseman Matt Carpenter doubled and later scored on left-fielder Matt Holliday's infield single to make the score 3-0 in the seventh. That was more than enough offense for Wainwright.
Wainwright, coming off a one-hit shutout of the Diamondbacks in which he faced just one over the minimum, struck out five of the first six batters he faced Sunday, including four straight.
"I don't want to keep talking about (Wainwright), because I don't want it to go away," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "Pitch to pitch, his mechanics are simple. He doesn't overdo anything. Even his misses are close."
NOTES: It was the Cardinals' eighth shutout win this season. ... Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright retired 23 consecutive batters dating to his last start before Reds SS Zack Cozart singled in the third inning Sunday. ... Reds RHP Mat Latos made the first of potentially three rehabilitation starts for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and three Ks in four innings. He threw 49 pitches, 32 strikes. ... Prior to Sunday's game, Reds manager Bryan Price lamented the 8:05 p.m. start for ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball", particularly with his team playing an afternoon game Monday at Dodger Stadium. "It's not great, the travel for both teams," said Price. "Especially with us going to Los Angeles for a 5 (p.m.) game, going through three time zones. The national (television) exposure is good for both clubs, but it's not how you would draw it up." The Cardinals host the Yankees on Monday.