ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Talk about a wise investment.
Not long after the Cardinals sent down rookie right-hander Michael Wacha in mid-June, they gave him a couple of extended breaks. He ended up pitching 27 13 innings in a seven-week stretch through July. He wasn't injured or in need of time off. The Cardinals wanted to bank some innings for the stretch.
Well, the stretch has arrived and their decision is paying off.
Finishing off what was as fine a weekend as the Cardinals have enjoyed at Busch Stadium all season, Wacha shut out the Pirates on two hits for seven innings in a 9-2 victory Sunday afternoon.
The Cardinals never trailed in sweeping the three-game series during which they outscored the Pirates 26-10. St. Louis trailed the Pirates by 1 12 games when the weekend started but now lead by 1 12 games with 20 days left in the season.
With the Cardinals off Monday and the Pirates in Texas to face Yu Darvish, St. Louis could have its largest lead in the division since July 26 by the en...