Enter starter Michael Wacha and his longest outing in nearly a
The young right-hander worked seven solid innings on Thursday for
his first win in just over a month and also helped his cause
offensively with a key hit in a four-run second inning as the
Cardinals dumped the Chicago Cubs 5-3 at Busch Stadium.
In going seven innings for the first time since a 3-1 loss on April
18 at Washington, Wacha (3-3) scattered seven hits and allowed two
runs while walking none and striking out five. It was his first win
since beating Chicago 6-4 on April 13.
While he entered the game with a good ERA of 2.85, Wacha was
averaging less than six innings per start.
"Walks definitely drive your pitch count up," he said. "I was able
to pound the strike zone and stay down in the zone. I was able to
keep them off-balance."
By the time he made his one real mistake, a one-strike fastball that
shortstop Starlin Castro lined into the left field seats for a
two-run homer in the top of the fourth, Wacha already had all the
runs he needed.
Wacha provided a couple of them with one swing of his previously
hitless bat. He slapped a 3-2 fastball from Jason Hammel up the
middle for a two-run single, scoring right fielder Allen Craig and
center fielder Peter Bourjos for a 3-0 advantage in the second.
It was Wacha's first hit in 15 at-bats.
"I wasn't real sure what to look for," Wacha said. "I put a good
swing on it and somehow squeaked it into center field."
Third baseman Matt Carpenter then snapped an 0-for-16 slide with a
double off the right-center field wall, scoring Wacha to cap the
It was enough to give Hammel (4-2) the loss in an outing that
snapped his season-opening stretch of seven consecutive quality
starts. Hammel had himself to blame for the second, issuing walks to
Craig and Bourjos after a one-out double by catcher Yadier Molina.
Hammel left after Molina's one-out RBI single in the sixth, having
allowed five hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and
The Cubs (13-26) nearly took Hammel off the hook in the eighth,
scoring a run on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Junior Lake and
loading the bases with two outs for pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz.
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But closer Trevor Rosenthal broke Schierholtz's bat on a grounder to
second, then rolled through the ninth for his 11th save in 12
chances as St. Louis (21-20) won its second straight game.
Chicago outhit the Cardinals 8-6, with Castro going 3-for-4 and
first baseman Anthony Rizzo singling twice. Both were bunt hits down
the third base line as the lefty-swinging Rizzo took advantage of an
overshifted infield defense.
"Wacha's a great pitcher, so if you can get him throwing from the
stretch, maybe you can get him out of rhythm," Rizzo said. "If the
defense is giving you that entire side, take it."
But that was not enough to beat a pitcher who gave St. Louis what it
"It was important," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Wacha's
performance. "We had a short leash going on him into the seventh,
but what he did allowed us to give Carlos (Martinez) a day off.
Michael was good and his hit gave us a huge boost."
NOTES: St. Louis 2B Kolten Wong, who was sent home from the stadium
before Wednesday night's game was postponed with a stomach illness,
was available Thursday but did not start. Mark Ellis got the call.
... Chicago came into Thursday's game leading the National League in
most pitches per plate appearance at 3.95. The Cardinals are second
at 3.87. ... Cubs CF Emilio Bonifacio is the only MLB player with
three games of four hits or more this year.
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