St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina made their 325th career start together Wednesday night, setting a major league record for most as a battery.

The St. Louis duo eclipsed the regular-season mark of 324 by the Detroit Tigers pair of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan from 1963-1975.

"It's probably cooler for me than Yadi," Wainwright said after the Cards' 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. "He has so many cool things. Next to the Roberto Clemente award, this is probably the coolest thing of my career."

Added Molina: "Such a great feeling, just to reach that number. To be at the top of that list. Such a great feeling."

Wainwright and Molina received a standing ovation from the crowd at Busch Stadium as they walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game.

"It was a lot to manage, early on," Wainwright said. "The crowd was so awesome, making me get constant chills and tearing up. Was trying to manage my adrenaline because it wanted to go through the roof."

Wainwright allowed one run in five innings with three strikeouts, and Molina went 1-for-4 with an RBI. The veteran righty escaped a first-inning jam, allowing his only run of the game.

"I thought, 'I'm getting out of this because we're supposed to win today,'" Wainwright said. "Usually I feel like I'm going to get out of it anyways, but I really felt like I'm getting out of this because we're supposed to win today, and we did."

The next active pair behind Wainwright and Molina is the Chicago Cubs battery of Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras, who have 105 starts together.

"A lot has taken place in that time span, and that's why I think this record is pretty darn cool," St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said before the game. "I don't see anyone coming close to ever reaching it again."

Towels with the No. 325 were given out to fans as they entered the ballpark on Wednesday.

Wainwright threw a first-pitch strike to Christian Yelich who clearly didn't swing at it on purpose to allow for the official moment of the record to take place. The ball was set aside.

Wainwright said he was grateful Yelich didn't hit it for a home run.

"I thought that was a really classy move," he said. "You could tell he was going to give that to us."

Wainwright and Molina made their first start together on April 6, 2007, in Houston. Wainwright recorded a 4-2 win, the first of his 212 victories with Molina behind the plate.

Molina, 40, has indicated he will retire at the end of this season. Wainwright, 41, has yet to make a decision on his future.

Wainwright has thrown 2,136 of his 2,548 innings (83.8 percent) to Molina. He and Molina have teamed up to record 1,812 strikeouts.

Only six current major league players -- Albert Pujols, Nelson Cruz, Miguel Cabrera, Zack Greinke, Rich Hill and Justin Verlander were active when Wainwright and Molina made their first start together.

Wainwright and Molina are best friends off the field as well. Wainwright introduced Molina to NHL hockey. The pair attended several games together during the St. Louis Blues' run to the Stanley Cup championship in 2019.

Wainwright and his family celebrated Thanksgiving at the Molina residence in Puerto Rico in November.

Also Wednesday, Pujols, who sits three home runs shy of 700 for his career, became the third player in major league history to reach 2,200 career RBIs, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth with an RBI double in the eighth inning. Pujols has 50 RBIs this season and is batting .266 with 18 homers.

"Seems like every day he passes them or comes up next to them or ties one of those legendary hitters," Wainwright said. "He's in that class."

The win drew the Cardinals closer to the second seed in the NL and a first-round bye, something the team has now discussed as motivation for the rest of the season. St. Louis is already a near lock to win the NL Central, opening up an eight-game lead on the Brewers.

"It's something we decided a week ago or so, starting looking at the Mets and Braves team," Wainwright said. "We decided as a team, the worst thing that can happen is we get complacent and get comfortable with this big lead we have. There is an opportunity ahead of us ... to get that No. 2 seed."

Wednesday's historic day had even more meaning as the Cardinals trio of Pujols, Wainwright and Molina hope for one final playoff run together.

"We had the mindset ready to win this game, no matter what," Molina said. "And that's what we did."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.