Allowing 11 hits in six innings was not the way Adam Wainwright wanted to start the season for the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1 in a 6-2 loss at Arizona

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But the 6-foot-7-inch right-hander got back on track, winning his next three games. A big part of Wainwright’s success early this season has been his control. He had 28 strikeouts without allowing a single walk in his first four starts.

Wainwright came back last season from reconstructive elbow surgery, going 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA.

“He’s back to himself,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told the Associated Press. “He’s healthy, and that’s a great place to start. Seasons like last year teach you how to pitch more than just rely on great stuff.”

Wainwright, who was 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA going into his next scheduled start at Washington on Tuesday, had 12 strikeouts in a complete game, 8-0 win at home over Milwaukee on April 13. He allowed four hits, and at the plate, had three hits in as many at-bats and two RBIs. The 12 K’s matched his career-best.

Wainwright added four more strikeouts against no walks in a 4-3 win at Philadelphia on April 18.

No other major league pitcher since 1900 has struck out 25 or more batters without issuing a walk in his first four starts of the season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“It’s something I say to myself before every game: No free passes,” Wainwright said. “Even when I get behind in the count, you can throw good quality pitches in the zone and let guys get themselves out or get a hit. At least make them earn it.”

Emotional win in Boston: The Boston Red Sox honored the victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. Players wore the traditional white home jerseys, but without “Red Sox” on the front. Instead, the front of their jerseys read “Boston,” which echoed the chants heard in the streets the night before, when the second suspect was apprehended. The jerseys will be auctioned off for a fund to support the victims.

Kansas City players wore a “B Strong” patch on the front of their jerseys.

David Ortiz, playing in his first game since last year, helped the Red Sox with a 2-for-4, 1 RBI-performance. Ortiz injured his right Achilles Tendon in a game last summer, and had inflammation in both heels during spring training.

“I wanted to win this game badly,” Ortiz told the AP. “Driving around and looking around at people’s faces, it was a very emotional day here,” Ortiz said. “It was painful. Today I could see people opening their chest and letting it go.”

Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Red Sox a two-run lead, and Boston won the game 4-3 for its sixth straight win.

“Knowing everything that went into the day for the city, for us to get the win, it came in a special way, special fashion,” Nava said. “It made it all that more important.”

StatsWatch: The top-10 hitters in the NL (through Mon.) —

  • Chris Johnson, Braves, .407
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, .385
  • Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, .366
  • Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, .364
  • Jean Segura, Brewers, .359
  • Bryce Harper, Nationals, .353
  • Welington Castillo, Cubs, .352
  • Daniel Murphy, Mets, .348
  • Chris Denorfia, Padres, .339
  • Carl Crawford, Dodgers, .338

Quotable: “They just take my jersey away from me and don’t ask if I want it or anything! First opening day! Jersey gone!” — Nationals OF Bryce Harper tweeted on Twitter on last week. Harper’s opening day jersey, in which he hit two home runs, was auctioned off by the team for more than $13,000.

Diamond Notes: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley is on the 15-day disabled list for pain in his right elbow. Billingsley had a bruised index finger suffered during spring training, and was limited to 25 starts last season due to elbow tightness…Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez won his 100th career game on Monday night at Houston. “Finally, it took too long,” Hernandez said. He had failed to reach the milestone in his last three attempts. Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings… Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL because of a strained left hamstring…Texas Rangers left-handed starter Matt Harrison, will have surgery this week to repair a herniated disc in his back and will be out at least until the All-Star break…Atlanta right fielder Jason Heyward has been placed on the 15-day DL following an appendectomy…

Copyright © 2013 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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