"It was a huge sense of relief," Wainwright said. "A huge sense of feeling blessed. I've worked very hard to get back to where I am.
"I told Jake (Westbrook) I think it might be the best feeling I've ever had pitching. I've done some things that are pretty fun but I can't remember ever feeling that emotional after a game."
Wainwright threw a four-hitter and the Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 4-0 on Tuesday night.
"All of the emotion came from just knowing it's been over a year since I've done that," Wainwright said. "Mentally, I was so much better."
It was his first shutout victory since Aug. 6, 2010, and third in his career. Wainwright (3-5), who missed 2011 with elbow ligament replacement surgery, struck out nine and walked one while throwing 111 pitches. He retired the first eight batters and allowed just one runner to reach third base.
"I think all of the emotion came from just knowing it's been over a year since I've felt really locked in like that," Wainwright said. "I was locked in all night. I knew I could do it. I knew I would do it. This year, it started rough for me but I knew if I kept grinding, it would come back to me."
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was happy to see it.
"It's nice to have that kind of outing from start to finish," Matheny said. "It's one he can build on. He believes in himself and rightfully so. He's accomplished a lot in this game."
San Diego manager Bud Black agreed.
"I just saw an up-tempo guy with a tremendous amount of focus of getting guys out," Black said. "As the game went on, that didn't waver. He pitched a good game."
Edinson Volquez (2-4) gave up five hits and three runs in six innings. The former Cincinnati Red remains winless in St. Louis. He is 0-3 in four career starts at Busch Stadium with a 6.50 ERA.
St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Matt Carpenter hit a double to left field and appeared to hurt himself as he left the batter's box. Daniel Descalso came in to run for Carpenter and scored on Beltran's two-out single. Descalso stayed in the game at third base for Carpenter, who experienced "right side tightness," according to a club spokesman.
Descalso scored on a bang-bang play at home in the sixth. He was hit by a pitch leading off and went to third on a seeing-single between first and second by Holliday. Beltran rapped a sharp grounder to first baseman Yonder Alonso. Descalso came halfway down the line. Alonso threw to third baseman Andy Parrino. Descalso headed home and slid in safely before San Diego catcher John Baker made the tag after getting the throw from Parrino. Baker did not have the plate blocked.
"I didn't do the right thing there," Descalso said. "I got caught in no-man's land. Once the first baseman threw it, I took off. The ball clearly beat me but the front of the plate was there and I beat him to it."
With the bases loaded, one out and the infield in, Tyler Greene hit a hard grounder to shortstop Everth Cabrera, who bobbled the ball before pushing it to get the force at second. Holliday scored on the play, making it 3-0.
Hundley threw out his major league-leading 15th would-be base stealer when he nabbed rookie Adron Chambers in the fifth inning. Chambers was called up from Memphis last Friday to fill in for the injured Allen Craig. Chambers made his first start as a big-leaguer, hitting eighth and playing center field.
Game notes St. Louis reliever Kyle McClellan said he will not need surgery on his sore right elbow. He said he hopes to begin throwing in six weeks. ... Cardinals 3B David Freese sat out his second consecutive game. Freese is mired in a 6-for-42 slump over the last 12 games. His batting average has dropped from .312 to .259 since May 9. ... San Diego 3B Chase Headley did not start Tuesday because of a lower back issue. He had started 42 of the Padres' 43 games. ... It was the 100th career start for Volquez. ... Cabrera went 0-for-3, extending his hitless slump to 17 consecutive at-bats.