Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly snapped a ninth-inning tie for a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night in the series finale between two first-place teams. It was the Cardinals' fifth consecutive series win over the Dodgers.
"I would've liked to be on the winning side, but it's still a big win for the team," said Wainwright, who was perfect through four innings with two strikeouts.
The Cardinals took two out of three from the Dodgers to maintain their NL Central lead of 5 1/2 games over the Chicago Cubs, who beat San Diego and open a four-game series in Los Angeles on Thursday.
"These guys compete and they're very gritty," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
The loss reduced the Dodgers' lead in the NL West to 3 1/2 games over Colorado, their smallest margin since May 12.
"We've got to go out and put a little bit of a streak together," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. "You've got to fight for what you want and fight your way through these things. When you lose, there doesn't have to be an excuse. Somebody beat you. That's the way this game is."
"We have to find a way to block the ball [at second base]," Torre said. "The walk comes back to haunt you. But you can understand that Brox is being very careful with Albert."
Holliday then flied out to center to score Pujols.
"We need a heads-up play. They weren't paying attention," Pujols said. "You don't have to be a hero every time. You can win a game making a diving catch. We keep battling and making plays."
The Dodgers had the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth when James Loney flied out to left to end the game.
Wainwright walked Manny Ramirez to lead off the fifth, giving the Dodgers their first base runner of the game. Wainwright struck out Blake before Loney hit into an inning-ending double play.
The right-hander yielded his first hit in the sixth, a one-out single to Orlando Hudson.
Wainwright ran into trouble in the seventh, falling behind 1-2 in the count to Ethier before giving up the one-out homer. Ramirez flied out to right before Blake sent a 2-2 pitch into the left field pavilion to tie the game at 2.
"The pitch to Ethier was not a bad pitch. I wanted to throw a little bit low," Wainwright said. "The other one was a despicable pitch. I sort of felt like I blew the save but we won and it didn't matter."
Wainwright allowed two runs on four hits, struck out three and walked one in seven innings.
"Adam was efficient and aggressive," La Russa said. "It's kind of a shame."
Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw gave up two runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked four a day after having flulike symptoms.
"There wasn't an easy out and I wasn't throwing enough strikes," he said. "I'm trying to throw the ball where I want to. It's just not going there sometimes. It was just a bad night. I hate that term learning process, but I guess it's part of it."
The Dodgers lost their fourth consecutive one-run game. ... The Dodgers were hitless through five innings, the longest they'd been hitless to start a game since June 16 against Oakland when they went 4 2/3 innings. ... Kemp went 0 for 4 on his bobblehead night. ... RHP John Smoltz is expected to join the Cardinals on Thursday in San Diego after the free agent signed with them Wednesday. ... Free agent RHP Vicente Padilla signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers on Wednesday and will start at Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday.