After a hard fought game against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night, the eight game winning streak ended for the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite that, entering Thursday’s game, they were still at the top of the National League, and had a 20-7 record.
And after the 6-5 loss Wednesday night, it was back to their winning ways the very next day.
Thursday afternoon’s game featured John Lackey (1-1, 3.69) pitching for the Cardinals, while Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.84) was on the mound pitching for the 14-12 Cubs.
The first inning started with Lackey striking out Chris Coghlan, and aside from a walk, proceeding to pitch a scoreless first. Arietta’s first inning started with back-to-back singles by Jon Jay and Kolten Wong. But Jhonny Peralta grounded into a double play, and Matt Adams grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the second inning, Jorge Soler grounded out, and Lackey struck out Starlin Castro and Matt Szczur back-to-back for a 1-2-3 inning. During the Cardinals half of the second, Mark Reynolds led off by reaching on an infield single on a throwing error by Castro, which advanced him to second. Jason Heyward then hit a single to center, as Reynolds scored, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
Heyward moved to third after a Yadier Molina ground-out, and soon thereafter scored when Peter Bourjos hit a triple to left field, as it became 2-0 Cardinals. Arietta would strike out both Jay and Lackey to end the inning, but the damage was already done.
For the next inning and a half, the Cubs and Cardinals played scoreless baseball, and aside from a Addison Russell single in the top of the third, neither team would garner a hit, or even get on base for that matter.
That is, until the bottom of the fourth inning.
After a Reynolds strikeout, Heyward reached on an infield single. With two outs, Bourjos was issued an intentional walk by Arietta to bring up Lackey, who entered the game still looking for his first hit of the season. And on the very first pitch he saw, Lackey hit a double to right field, and both Heyward and Bourjos scored, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, as the Cubs plan backfired.
Following the fourth inning, both Lackey and Arietta continued to roll, shutting down their respective opponents’ lineups. Though it was the former who had the upper-hand. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected last night, brought in Justin Grimm to relieve Arietta after a struggling start.
During the same inning, Molina singled as Heyward, who had already been on base, advanced to third. Bourjos would strikeout swinging, but a wild pitch by Grimm scored Heyward, giving the Cardinals a 5-0 lead and Heyward his third run of the game.
It wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Cubs would score a run, which occurred after Castro singled home Soler, to cut the lead of St. Louis to 5-1. That would be the only run allowed by Lackey all afternoon. As the eighth inning began, Lackey remained on the mound, despite nearing 100 pitches. The inning started with a fly out by Russell in center field. Coghlan singled to center following the fly out. Up stepped Kris Bryant, the final batter Lackey faced, and Bryant got called out on strikes, his 10th strikeout of the game, manager Mike Matheny would go to the bullpen.
After lackluster (but not terrible) attempts in the ninth by Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness to end the game, closer Trevor Rosenthal was brought in, and finished off the Cubs in a non-save opportunity, capped off by a strike out of Szczur, as St. Louis defeated Chicago 5-1 and took three of four in the series, finishing the home-stand with a record of 9-2, as they improve to 21-7 on the year, while the Cubs drop to 14-13 on the year.
Lackey’s final line of the game: 7 2/3 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K. It was his 18th career game in which he struck out 10 or more batters.
Michael Wacha will get the start tomorrow night (6:00 p.m CST) for St. Louis as the Cardinals head to Pittsburgh to begin a series against the Pirates.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)