Game Thirteen – Cubs 5, Cardinals 0
WP – John Lackey (3-0) LP – Mike Leake (0-2) Save – None
John Lackey pitched seven shutout innings, struck out 11 and drove in a run. Dexter Fowler put the Cubs on the board with a solo homer in the sixth inning. The Cubs scored three runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth and beat the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday night.
John Lackey shut down the Cardinals in his return to St. Louis. Lackey pounded the strike zone and set the tone for the night as his teammates tried to figure out Mike Leake. Lackey gave up four hits in seven innings, only one for extra bases. Lackey struck out 11, one shy of his career-high, and issued a free pass on 91 pitches, 68 for strikes.
The turning point in the game came in the fifth inning. After a double from Aledmys Diaz put runners on second and third with one out in a scoreless game, Mike Matheny called for a suicide squeeze. Mike Leake bunted through Lackey’s pitch. Miguel Montero ran Kolten Wong back to third base. But Montero held on to the ball to long and Wong got back to the bag without the Cubs recording an out.
John Lackey struck out Mike Leake swinging after the Cardinals’ pitcher just missed a three-run homer. Lackey then struck out Matt Carpenter swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. And the Cubs offense woke up in the sixth inning.
Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a double and a home run) led off the sixth and launched a 2-1 pitch from Mike Leake over the wall just to the right of straight away center. The ball traveled 439 feet and Fowler’s third homer of the season gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
John Lackey retired the Cardinals in order in the sixth and the Cubs went to work in the seventh.
Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI) started the seventh with a single. Miguel Montero (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) blooped a single to center. Jorge Soler (0-for-3) smoked a grounder toward short. The ball, with an exit velocity of 115 mph, ate up Diaz. The Cardinals shortstop bobbled the ball then threw it away. Diaz should have been charged with two errors. Bryant scored, 2-0 Cubs. Matt Szczur ran for Soler at second base.
With the infield in and runners on second and third, Addison Russell (1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI) drove a 1-0 pitch to right center. Montero tagged and scored, 3-0 Cubs. Szczur moved up 90 feet and scored when John Lackey (1-for-3 with a RBI) singled to left center on a 0-2 pitch. Fowler flied out to deep center and Jason Heyward (0-for-4) lined out to right.
John Lackey finished his night by retiring three of the four batters he faced in the seventh inning.
The Cubs added a jug run in the eighth. Ben Zobrist (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) doubled to left. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a HBP) flied out to center. Zobrist tagged and moved to third. Bryant singled to right, Zobrist scored and the Cubs took a 5-0 lead into the eighth inning.
Travis Wood and Pedro Strop combined on a scoreless eighth. And Trevor Cahill issued a two-out walk to Yadier Molina in the ninth, but that was all.
Cubs’ pitching completed the shutout in St. Louis, gave up five hits and walked two batters while striking out 14 on the night.
Monday was just the first of 19 games against the Cardinals this season. It was good to see the Cubs start the season-series with a win in St. Louis. The Cubs played a crisp, clean game and became the first team in the majors with 10 wins on the young season.
With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 10-3 on the season.
Jason Hammel is scheduled to face lefty Jaime Garcia in game two with the Cardinals on Tuesday night (7:15pm CDT).