ST. LOUIS — Getting out of the first inning can be difficult for a starting pitcher. Just ask Brandon Workman.
The right-hander gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning of Boston's 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night. In his final 4 1-3 innings, he allowed a run and two hits, finding his stride too late.
"I just didn't come out sharp and that got me," Workman said. "I put our team behind the 8-ball against a good pitcher. Maybe I need to take a different approach in the bullpen."
The 25-year-old Workman (1-5) was a second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Texas and moved into the rotation when Jon Lester was traded to Oakland. He has dropped his last five decisions with a 6.04 ERA and has surrendered 12 runs in the first inning of his 10 starts overall.
In his last two starts, he has totaled 70 pitches in the first inning and allowed five runs.
The Red Sox were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
"We ran up his pitch count, we forced him to make some key pitches with men in scoring position," manager John Farrell said. "Overall, you put that many runners on base, you come away with a little bit of a missed opportunity."
Jhonny Peralta's two-run double was the big blow in the first and Wong had his first multihomer game. The Cardinals took two of three from their stripped-down opponents, who beat them in the World Series last fall but are in last place in the AL East.
Wainwright (14-6) needed 66 pitches to slog through the first three innings after the start was delayed by rain for more than an hour for the second straight night. The 6-foot-7 right-hander retired 11 in a row before Boston put two on with two outs in the seventh.
Wainwright has won at least 14 games each of the last three seasons. Wily Peralta won his 14th game earlier Thursday for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who are one game ahead of St. Louis.
Workman retired nine straight before Wong lined a 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall with one out in the fifth to put the Cardinals up 4-2. Wong then added his ninth homer in the seventh, a 423-foot shot off Craig Breslow.
Mike Napoli and Christian Vasquez each drove in a run in the third, Wainwright's roughest inning. He had seven strikeouts and allowed seven hits, four of them in the third.
Red Sox: David Ortiz was scratched because of concerns with wet grounds after daylong rains saturated the field and Napoli got the start at first base instead. Ortiz pinch-hit in the eighth and lined out. Allen Craig (left foot sprain) is visiting with specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday and will rejoin the team in Los Angeles.
Cardinals: Closer Trevor Rosenthal made his fourth straight appearance in a five-day span on Wednesday and took the loss, surrendering the go-ahead run. He didn't warm up during the finale. All-Star setup man Pat Neshek finished for his third save in five chances, and first since June 17.
The Cardinals sent Justin Masterson (1-0, 7.50 ERA) ahead to Baltimore, where he will oppose Chris Tillman (8-5, 3.78 ERA) on Friday night. He is 2-3 with a 6.98 ERA in six starts at Camden Yards. The Red Sox begin a three-game series at Los Angeles, with Allen Webster (1-1, 6.75 ERA) opposing the Angels' Jered Weaver (12-6, 3.59 ERA).
The Cardinals have won all four interleague series against the Red Sox and are 8-4 overall. ... Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was hitless in three at-bats before coming out in a double switch and is in an 0-for-27 slump.