CHICAGO – One day after St. Louis and Chicago combined to plate 11 runs, scoring was hard to come by. The two teams managed a total of just three runs Saturday, all coming in the sixth inning or later, as the Cubs shutout the Cardinals 3-0 at Wrigley Field.
Both teams had base runners throughout most of the game, but it wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth when one of the teams was able to get a run across the plate. St. Louis stranded eight while the Cubs left six.
When the Cubs finally broke the scoreless tie, it came with two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Lake tagged Michael Wacha’s fourth pitch of the at bat, sending the ball into the left-center field bleachers for a two-run homer. The blast was Lake’s third of the season.
“It is just frustrating,” Wacha said. “I was pitching well. I was able to get out of a jam there (in the fifth inning), but then I just served one up to them basically and they go up two runs. You just can’t afford that in that situation.”
Wacha (2-3) limited the Cubs’ base runners most of the afternoon, but had trouble when it came to Lake and Starlin Castro. The two Cubs (11-17) accounted for all five hits off of Wacha. Lake was 3-for-3 off Wacha, providing much of the offense. Lake had a single and a double early on, but was stranded both times before his homer.
“Just the one homer there to put a couple of runs on him,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “Still, it is still a great day for him. We just got to do what we keep talking about and try to get some offense.”
Wacha finished his day’s work with 103 pitches thrown and six strike outs. He walked three and scattered five hits, one of which was a home run.
After removing Wacha for the seventh, Carlos Martinez set the Cubs down 1-2-3, but Randy Choate was unable to match Martinez in the eighth. Choate’s first pitch to Anthony Rizzo sailed into the right field bleachers for the Cubs’ second home run of the day. It was also Rizzo’s sixth of the year.
St. Louis had a runner reach third in first inning and one made it to second in the second, but after that, the pickings were slim until the ninth.
“We had some chances,” Matheny said. We just couldn’t get it done.”
In the top of the ninth, the Cardinals put their first two batters on base with a pair of singles, but a double play and a strikeout ended the threat before it ever got serious.
“To get the first two guys on in the ninth against the closer is a good opportunity,” Matheny said. “The double play definitely hurt. Our guys going up there with a good aggressive approach in their zone and unfortunately that one went on one pitch and took a little wind out.”
St. Louis (15-16) outhit the Cubs seven hits to six while also drawing two walks. Matt Adams was the Cardinals' most successful hitter of the day, going 3-for-3 off Chicago starting pitcher Jake Arrieta before finishing the day 3-for-4.
“The whole line up, we were hitting balls hard,” Adams said. “(Jake Arrieta) was aggressive with his fastball and I was ready to hit the fastball.”
Jhonny Peralta was the only other Cardinal to have multiple hits, going 2-for-4. Yadier Molina and Mark Ellis also singled, though Ellis’ base knock came in a pinch hitting role in the seventh inning. Matt Holliday and Jon Jay each worked a free pass.
While the offense seemed to flat line again, Matheny was adamant that there is always something that can be done to give it a jolt.
“There is always something we can do,” Matheny said. “We all have to figure it out. Any good team I have ever been around, you have times when you just can’t figure it out and you are scratching your head, wondering what’s going on. It is not time to just say, well, I have done everything I can do. You have got to grind and push through this. … We have got to figure it out and we have to figure it out fast.”
Even with the offense not providing any runs, Wacha was not looking to lay the blame on anyone for the day’s outcome.
“I was also hitting today,” Wacha said. “I didn’t get one (bunt) over and I struck out, so I’m at fault today as well.”
St. Louis and Chicago will close out this three-game series tonight when the Cardinals and Cubs face off on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Lance Lynn will take the hill for the Cardinals with first pitch coming at 7:05 p.m.
NOTES: In the top of the fifth inning, Allen Craig was ruled safe on an infield single. Chicago manager Rick Renteria challenged the call and after a delay of 1:05, the play was overturned. Craig was called out to end the inning. … Matt Adams tied his career-high with three hits in a game. He last accomplished the feat on April 14. … By taking the first two games of the three-game series, the Cubs have secured their first series win of the season.