Lake and Rizzo Pac the Punch, Cubs Shut Out Wacha and the Cardinals – Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

Game Twenty-Eight: Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

WP – Brian Schlitter (1-0) LP – Michael Wacha (2-3) Save – Hector Rondon (3)

wflag-pub2014Jake Arrieta pitched 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball in his first start of the season, Junior Lake hit a two-run blast off Michael Wacha in the sixth, Anthony Rizzo added a solo shot in the eighth and the Cubs’ pen tossed 3 2/3 innings of three-hit ball as the Cubs beat the Cardinals for the second day in a row … and won their first series of the season. The Cubs have won three games in a row for the first time since last July (July 26-28 in San Francisco) and snapped a 14-series winless streak that dated back to last September (Sept. 9-11).

Junior Lake (3-for-3 with a home run, a double and two RBI) had a big day at the plate. After reaching on an infield single in his first at bat, Lake doubled off the vines in left in the fifth. Lake smoked a 2-1 pitch from Michael Wacha into the bleachers just to the left of straight away center in the sixth. Lake’s two-out, two run homer with Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) on board for the ride would be all of the runs the Cubs’ pen would need.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) reached base two more times. And after grounding out to first with the bases loaded in the fifth, Rizzo lined lefty Randy Choate’s first pitch of the eighth inning into the right field bleachers. Rizzo’s sixth longball of the season and his third in as many games capped the scoring on the afternoon.

The Cubs managed only six hits on Saturday, four went for extra bases and two left the park.

Jake Arrieta put together a very good first outing of the season. Arrieta wiggled out of a couple of jams in the first and second innings. Arrieta walked a batter and gave up a hit in each of the first two innings. And it took him 41 pitches to get through the first two frames as he dealt with command issues. Starlin Castro helped bail him out of trouble in the second inning with an excellent over the shoulder catch in shallow left center. Mike Olt turned in an excellent play behind Arrieta as well before he settled in.

Jake Arrieta retired 12 of 13 going into the sixth inning and struck out Matt Holliday swinging for the first out in the sixth. Matt Adams collected his third hit of the game off Arrieta and Rick Renteria went to his pen for Brian Schlitter to close out the sixth inning.

Jake Arrieta had good life on his fastball and both of the walks he issued came in the first two innings. Arrieta ended up striking out seven batters on the afternoon and four of the seven were of the looking variety. Arrieta tossed 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball and gave up four hits (three to Matt Adams) with two walks and seven strikeouts. Arrieta threw 82 pitches, 56 for strikes, in his first start of the season.

Rick Renteria’s bullpen picked up where Jake Arrieta left off and completed the shutout.

Brian Schlitter retired the only two batters he faced to close out the sixth inning. James Russell made his first appearance since April 23 and induced a grounder to short off the bat of Jon Jay to start the seventh inning. Neil Ramirez was impressive in his Wrigley Field debut. Ramirez struck out two of the three batters he faced to close out the seventh inning. Pedro Strop recorded a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

Hector Rondon picked up his second save in as many days and his third of the year. Rondon gave up back-to-back hits to Yadier Molina and Jhonny Peralta to start the ninth. But he got Jon Jay to tap back to the mound and started a 1-6-3 double play and Rondon struck out Mark Ellis swinging to end the game.

Brian Schlitter picked up his first big league victory in Saturday’s win over the Cardinals.

The relief corps of Schlitter, Russell, Ramirez, Strop and Rondon gave up three hits with three strikeouts over the last 3 2/3 innings and did not issue a single free pass. After not pitching a shutout for the first three-plus weeks of the season, Saturday was the Cubs second shutout in seven days.

The Cardinals are now under .500 after May 1 for first time since Oct. 1, 2007.

With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 11-17 on the season.

Jake Arrieta and Michael Wacha pitched out of early jams and the game went into the sixth with goose eggs on the old scoreboard. Jake Arrieta started the sixth after retiring 12 of the previous 13 batters he faced. Arrieta struck out Matt Holliday to start the inning, his seventh strikeout on the afternoon. Matt Adams singled to right and with Molina due up, Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Arrieta and went to his pen for Brian Schlitter. Schlitter retired Yadier Molina (fly out to right) and Jhonny Peralta (fly out to deep right center) to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the sixth still scoreless.

Starlin Castro led off the sixth with a single to center (1-2 pitch). Nate Schierholtz (pop out to short) and Welington Castillo (strikeout looking) made two quick outs without advancing Castro from first base. Junior Lake stepped in and crushed a 2-1 pitch from Michael Wacha. The ball cut through the wind and ended up in the bleachers just to the left of straight away center. Lake’s third home run of the season gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Mike Olt popped out to second to end the inning.

James Russell and Neil Ramirez kept the Cardinals off the board in the seventh and Carlos Martinez made quick work of the Cubs in the bottom of the seventh.

Pedro Strop took the hill in the eighth with the Cubs up 2-0. Strop threw strikes and retired the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup (Craig, Holliday and Adams) in order.

Anthony Rizzo led off the bottom of the eighth and lined lefty Randy Choate’s first pitch into the bleachers in right. Rizzo’s sixth home run of the season gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead and provided a little breathing room for the bullpen. Choate retired Castro (grounder to short) and Schierholtz (foul tip, strikeout) before Mike Matheny went back to his pen for Pat Neshek. Castillo grounded out to short and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 3-0.

Hector Rondon made his second appearance in as many days looking for his third save of the season. Yadier Molina singled to right and Jhonny Peralta blooped a single into left. Jon Jay stepped in with runners on first and second with no outs. Rondon jammed Jay and he hit a tapper back to the mound. Rondon fielded the ball and started a 1-6-3 double play. Molina advanced to third with two outs. Rondon struck out Mark Ellis swinging to end the game … it’s always a good day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals.

The Cubs and Cardinals wrap up the three-game series under the lights on Sunday Night Baseball (7:05pm CDT). Jason Hammel is scheduled to face Lance Lynn.

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