Jackson and the Pen Blank the Cards – Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

Game Ninety – Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

WP – Edwin Jackson (6-10) LP – Jake Westbrook (5-4) Save – Kevin Gregg (16)

wflag-pubThe Cubs won for the fifth time in six games on Thursday night behind Edwin Jackson’s best start of the season and production from the young core of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs posted their second shutout of the season and became the first team to keep the Cardinals off the board since the Pirates on April 28.

Edwin Jackson was nasty on Thursday. Jackson did an excellent job of mixing his pitches and pounding the strike zone. Jackson scattered three hits over seven shutout innings. Jackson retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a double to David Freese in the second inning. Jackson then retired six in a row before surrendering a single to Allen Craig then set down eight in a row before Brian Bogusevic misplayed a liner to center into a double for Allen Craig in the seventh.

Edwin Jackson did not walk a batter while striking out five on 91 pitches, 60 for strikes, in seven innings.

It took four pitchers to record the final six outs but Dale Sveum did a good job with his bullpen on Thursday. Sveum used Blake Parker to start the eighth before going to James Russell to face Matt Carpenter. Sveum then went to Pedro Strop with two on and two down with Carlos Beltran due up representing the tying run. Strop struck out Beltran swinging on a 2-2 pitch to get out of the jam.

Kevin Gregg survived his own error and a walk to close it out in the ninth.

Cubs’ pitching held the high-flying Cardinals offense to four hits and two walks on Thursday.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and a walk) and Starlin Castro (3-for-4 with two runs scored) provided the Cubs’ offense on Thursday night. Rizzo drove in all three runs and Castro scored twice after reaching base three times. Luis Valbuena (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) walked and scored in the third inning. Brian Bogusevic (1-for-4) collected one of the Cubs other two hits.

The Cubs scored all three runs in the first three innings before Jake Westbrook settled in. The Cubs managed only seven hits but walked four times.

Anthony Rizzo recorded his first three RBI game since June 5 in Anaheim.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Edwin Jackson on Thursday. Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Brian Bogusevic and Anthony Rizzo each made plays to keep the Cardinals from stringing hits together.

With Thursday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 41-49 on the season.

Edwin Jackson retired the Redbirds in order in the first on 14 pitches, nine for strikes … and was rewarded with a run in the home half of the first.

Starlin Castro singled to right (2-0 pitch) with one out in the first. Anthony Rizzo pulled a 2-1 pitch into the gap in right center. The ball rolled to the ivy and Castro scored all the way from first … 1-0 Cubs. Westbrook predictably struck out Soriano swinging for the second out. Nate Schierholtz walked but with runners on first and second, Bogusevic grounded out to first to end the inning.

Jackson gave up a two-out double to David Freese in the second, but that was all. Jackson needed 26 pitches, 16 for strikes, to complete two frames. Jackson recorded a 1-2-3 third inning and threw 42 pitches, 26 for strikes, over the first three innings.

The Cubs went to work against Westbrook in the third. Luis Valbuena led off the third with a walk and advanced to second on a single to center by Starlin Castro. Jay tried to make a diving catch on the sinking liner but came up short, the ball hit off his knee and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs.

A 2-1 pitch to Rizzo got past Yadier Molina. Valbuena and Castro moved up ninety feet. Anthony Rizzo worked a full count before singling to left. Valbuena and Castro scored, 3-0 Cubs. Soriano fouled out to Molina behind the plate and Schierholtz popped out to Kozma in shallow left. Westbrook retired Bogusevic on a grounder to second to end the inning.

Edwin Jackson surrendered a two out single to Allen Craig in the fourth after Matt Holliday hurt his right hamstring running to first on a grounder to short. Jackson kept the Cardinals off the board and threw 52 pitches, 34 for strikes, over the first four innings.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tack on in the fourth. Darwin Barney reached on an infield single off Freese’s glove to start the inning. Welington Castillo walked to put two on with no outs. Jackson failed to get the bunt down and fouled a bunt attempt on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Valbuena popped out to Kozma in shallow left and Castro popped out to Beltran in right (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After four complete, the Cubs led 3-0.

Edwin Jackson and Jake Westbrook settled in after the fourth. Jackson retired eight in a row before a double by Allen Craig with one out in the seventh after surrendering a two-out single to Craig in the fourth. And the Cubs’ offense could not string together any hits against Jake Westbrook. The Cubs rolled into double plays in both the fifth and sixth innings.

Edwin Jackson struck out David Freese swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the third out in the seventh with Allen Craig at third. Jackson was lifted for a pinch hitter (Dave Sappelt) in the bottom of the seventh and turned the game over to the pen.

Blake Parker started the eighth with a 3-0 lead and gave up a leadoff single to Jon Jay (1-2 pitch). Parker caught Kozma looking at a 0-2 pitch for the first out. Parker then jumped ahead of pinch hitter Daniel Descalso 1-2. Parker kept throwing his breaking stuff and walked Descalso to put two on with one down for Matt Carpenter.

Dale Sveum went to his pen for James Russell to face Carpenter. Russell fell behind Carpenter 3-1. Carpenter smoked Russell’s next pitch into center … but right at Brian Bogusevic for the second out. Sveum went to his pen again for Pedro Strop.

Pedro Strop uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-0 offering to Carlos Beltran. Jay and Descalso moved up ninety feet. With runners on second and third, Strop struck out Beltran swinging on 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Randy Choate in the eighth and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 3-0.

Kevin Gregg caught Matt Adams looking at a 0-2 pitch for the first out in the ninth. Allen Craig pulled a 2-2 pitch toward the hole between first and second. Rizzo made a sensational diving stop, then an accurate, overhand throw toward first. Gregg was at the bag in plenty of time but dropped the ball. Craig reached on the error. Yadier Molina flied out to right for the second out. Gregg then walked David Freese and Jon Jay stepped in representing the tying run.

Jon Jay drove a 1-1 pitch out to left. Alfonso Soriano went down to one knee while battling the lights … and caught the ball to end the game.

Carlos Villanueva faces Joe Kelly in game two with the Cardinals on Friday afternoon.

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