WASHINGTON -- Adam Wainwright has flirted with complete games several times this season. He finally got one, even if it was on a waterlogged technicality.
Wainwright weathered two delays and pitched six strong innings, Rick Ankiel ended a five-week homer drought and the St. Louis Cardinals snapped a three-game losing skid with a rain-shortened 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
"Easy way to get one," joked Wainwright, who flew to D.C. on Wednesday to be ready for the outing. "It's a little bit of karma, maybe. They told me if I fly in early, I had to throw a CG and I did it."
Wainwright (11-6) allowed one run and eight hits in the 19th consecutive start he has gone at least six innings. He walked one and struck out seven in his first complete game of the season and third of his career.
"It was clutch. It was a game where they had several guys that had success against him," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He made a lot of great pitches to get zeros. He made the lead hold up."
The game, a makeup of a May 3 contest postponed by rain, was called with one out in the top of the seventh after a 1-hour, 30-minute delay left the field unplayable. There was a 76-minute stoppage in the fourth inning. It was the 16th Washington game interrupted by rain this season, and delays in those total 30 hours, 31 minutes.
Washington interim manager Jim Riggleman tried with no success to convince the umpires that the worst-hit areas -- puddled water between first and second base -- could be repaired to allow play to continue.
"I was trying to convince them that we could dry it up if they gave it a little more time," Riggleman said. "But it was not going to be safe."
Crew chief Dana DeMuth said the final deluge, which didn't even show on radar when the tarp was removed shortly after 11 p.m. in preparation of an 11:25 p.m. resumption, left the field a soggy mess.
"It wasn't supposed to be there more than 4 or 5 minutes and it ended up being a 12-minute downpour," DeMuth said. "Then getting the tarp on was getting the tarp on too late. The whole infield was an inch under water and they put down an inch of [drying] dust trying to ... sop it up, and that only turned into mud."
La Russa agreed with the umpire's call.
"You can't try harder than that -- whether it's the grounds crew or the umpire. Mother Nature is always stronger than anybody," La Russa said.
DeMuth's decision preserved the statistical complete game for Wainwright, who wouldn't have pitched the seventh.
"[La Russa] told me I was done before the [second] rain delay happened. I could have kept pitching -- no problem -- but I knew he was going to yank me," Wainwright said.
Adam Dunn had three hits for the Nationals, who had won two straight.
The Cardinals exploited an error by Dunn in left field to score an unearned run in the first. Skip Schumaker led off with a double, moved to third when Dunn dropped Colby Rasmus' flyout on the transfer and scored on Mark DeRosa's groundout to the pitcher.
Ankiel led off the second with his sixth homer, and first since June 19.
Collin Balester (0-1) started for the Nationals in place of the injured Jordan Zimmermann, but was removed after thunderstorms forced the first delay. The right-hander allowed three runs -- two earned -- and three hits, walked one and struck out two in his 2009 debut.
Just like they did in putting Zimmermann on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow discomfort, the Nationals exercised caution with Balester.
"For a guy like that, an hour [delay] is pretty long. ... He's a young guy, we're where we are at in the standings and we're going to be conservative," Riggleman said of Balester.
Tyler Clippard relieved and gave up a one-out single to Yadier Molina and a run-scoring double to Joe Thurston for a 3-0 St. Louis lead. Brendan Ryan was intentionally walked to load the bases, Wainwright fouled out and Schumaker drew a walk to force in a run.
Dunn doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on a two-out double by Alberto Gonzalez.
Before the game, the Cardinals added SS Julio Lugo, acquired in a Wednesday trade with Boston, to the 25-man roster and optioned RHP P.J. Walters to Triple-A Memphis. ... Nationals LHP Scott Olsen underwent successful surgery Wednesday to repair a small tear in the labrum in his left shoulder. He will begin a throwing program in 6 to 8 weeks, said acting general manager Mike Rizzo. ... Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols got the night off, just the second time this season he hasn't started. Both have been at Washington.