ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright knew what was happening Tuesday night, but he felt powerless to stop it.

The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander's normally clean mechanics went awry. He was slouching over on the mound, throwing instead of driving toward the plate. He kept missing pitches arm-side and walking batters like a nervous rookie instead of an accomplished All-Star.

In the fifth inning of a 7-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Wainwright walked three batters, hit one and committed his first error in 84 starts, leading to a five-run outburst that decided the game and helped drop St. Louis 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

"A train wreck," Wainwright called the inning. "It's hard to explain when things happen like that. I lost all my power. I had a couple of mechanical flaws that were out of the ordinary. Usually, I can make adjustments on the fly, but not tonight."

Wainwright used the last half of the game to view mechanics from other good starts. After comparing Tuesday's game to his 9-4 loss May 30 against the San Francisco Giants, he made a vow for his Sunday start at the Chicago Cubs.

"I will be better," he said.