MILWAUKEE — Carlos Martinez stayed in control and felt stronger as the game wore on.
After a dud of an outing on opening day, Martinez returned to the form that has made the St. Louis Cardinals' ace one of the top young right-handers in the game.
Martinez pitched into the ninth inning and struck out 10, Yadier Molina homered and the Cardinals beat the error-prone Milwaukee Brewers 6-0 on Wednesday night.
"I felt I was in pretty good control," Martinez said, "and then after the sixth inning I was really focused. I was really, really in good control."
Leadoff batter Dexter Fowler scored twice in the first three innings for the Cardinals, who beat their NL Central rivals a night after losing on a game-ending homer by Ryan Braun. St. Louis took two of three in the series.
A 4-0 lead after four innings was more than enough cushion for the hard-throwing Martinez (1-1), who rebounded from a rough opening-day start last week against the New York Mets by cruising through the Brewers' dangerous lineup at hitter-friendly Miller Park.
"He was still efficient even though he had guys on base," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "And, that's the stuff we expect to see. It was fun to watch him today."
Martinez allowed four hits and two walks. The Brewers thought they might be getting to him early after putting leadoff batters on in the first and second, but both opportunities were wasted.
The two-time All-Star then retired 16 straight before Domingo Santana laced a one-out single in the seventh. Martinez's fastball still registered 93 mph in the ninth.
"Once we couldn't get anything going those first two innings, he did a nice job of settling in and was really good the rest of the way," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Martinez left with one out in the ninth after Yairo Munoz, who entered as a defensive replacement at third base, mishandled a sharp grounder by Santana to put runners at first and second.
The Brewers loaded the bases against reliever Sam Tuivailala, but Bud Norris ended the game by getting Manny Pina to hit a soft bouncer in front of the mound for a 1-2-3 double play.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (left hamstring) will be activated from the disabled list Thursday to start the home opener against Arizona. Matheny said the team decided Wainwright was ready after running him through a final checkup Wednesday morning.
"I think they invented tests for me to try and pass to prove to them that I was ready," Wainwright said.
Brewers: LHP Wade Miley (left groin) might be able to start throwing off a mound next week, Counsell said. ... LHP Boone Logan (left triceps) could start throwing off a mound by the end of next week. ... C Stephen Vogt (right shoulder) will likely start throwing early next week. ... LF Christian Yelich (oblique) was replaced by Hernan Perez in the top of the seventh in what Counsell called a precautionary move. The Brewers were trailing by six at the time. Counsell said Yelich would likely get a day off Thursday with the Chicago Cubs scheduled to start LHP Jon Lester to open a four-game series.
ON THE MOUND
Molina hit a solo shot to left field in the fourth off Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin (0-1). The right-hander, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, allowed seven hits and six runs over 5 2/3 innings.
Only three runs were earned because of three Milwaukee errors, two by second baseman Jonathan Villar. His wayward throw to third trying to get Paul DeJong advancing on an infield single eluded Travis Shaw in the sixth. DeJong scored to make it a six-run lead.
Chacin's ERA is at 7.00 after two starts.
"I'm disappointed with my first two starts this year but I won't put my head down," he said. "I'm going to keep working on my pitches."
Cardinals: Wainwright will pitch in his 345th career game when he starts Thursday, which would leave him three behind Todd Worrell for eighth place on the team's career list.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter opens the series at home against the Cubs. He is 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA over 12 innings in his last two starts against Chicago.