- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Adam Wainwright was as close to unhittable as he’s ever been.

“I had pretty much everything working. My sinker was sinking, my four-seamer was four-seaming, my curveball was curving,” Wainwright said. “My cutter was back. That was a big pitch for me tonight, something that when I’m throwing that quality, good, hard cutter (and) not a sloppy slurvy slider thing, it keeps those lefties honest.”

The right-hander threw a two-hitter Thursday night for his seventh career shutout, chipped in at the plate with a double and single, and St. Louis benefited from four errors by Washington in an 8-0 victory.

Wainwright (3-1) allowed Ian Desmond’s infield single in the second inning and Adam LaRoche’s single to right in the ninth. He struck out eight and walked three. During one dominant stretch, the runner-up for the 2013 NL Cy Young Award retired 18 consecutive batters.

“He was really mixing it up as well as we’ve seen him mix it up in a long time,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

It was Wainwright’s 17th complete game and his fourth two-hitter. He’s never allowed fewer hits over nine innings.

“Days like today you could tell he knew, or probably knew, that guys were sitting on certain pitches at times and he would either take a little more off or just stretch the zone a little bit,” Matheny said. “When you’re able to be that fine it’s just one of those rare days and he has them more than most people.”

Wainwright threw 110 pitches and finished the game by striking out Desmond.

Desmond, Washington’s shortstop, made a pair of errors, raising his season total to seven. The Nationals have 20 through 16 games, an average of 1.25.

Desmond failed to field a ball hit by the game’s first batter. Then, his throwing error in the fourth was compounded by an error on second baseman Danny Espinosa, who dropped the ball making the transfer on a potential double play, resulting in an RBI for Wainwright that made it 4-0. Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth dropped a flyball in the eighth.

“It’s not lack of effort. It’s not lack of preparation,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “It’s not lack of anything.”

Taylor Jordan (0-1) gave up seven runs, five earned, in 5 1-3 innings.

Matt Adams drove in three runs, Matt Holliday had two RBIs, and the Cardinals finished with 14 hits. Everyone got in on the act: All nine members of the starting lineup had at least one hit.

St. Louis has won eight in a row against Washington, dating to Game 5 of the 2012 NL division series.

So far this season, the Nationals have beaten weaker opponents, going a combined 8-1 against the Mets and Marlins, and really struggled against better teams, going 1-6 against the Braves and Cardinals.

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