Wednesday’s game against the Red Birds marked the end of the short two game set against the long time rivals. After edging the Cardinals the day before, the Cubs sent Carlos Villanueva to the mound in a bid for the two game sweep. Both offenses got on the board in the first inning, with the Cardinals cashing in a lead off walk on a double play ball during which the Cubs conceded the run, and Anthony Rizzo hitting a double that Carlos Beltran mishandled and allowed Luis Valbuena to score on. The teams pick up the scoring again in the fourth inning, with St. Louis making it 2-1 with a sac fly before the Cubs put a crooked number on the board.
Valbuena was the table setter again, getting a lead off walk. Rizzo followed with a single and both were driven in on Nate Schierholtz’s double. The Cubs right fielder would later score to make it 4-2 in favor of the home team. Villanueva would make the lead hold up despite allowing one more run in the fifth, before his day game to an end in the seventh inning. After a strike em out, throw em out, manager Dale Sveum brought in his trusty lefty James Russell to face lefty Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately for Russell, he could not silence the Cardinal hitter despite being up 1-2 in the count. Carpenter hit a double and would score on a Carlos Beltran single, tagging Russell with his first earned run allowed this season.
Michael Bowden would give up the go ahead run in the eighth and suffered the loss, with a scoreless inning effort by Kevin Gregg in the top of the ninth ended up being a moot point. With all the bullpen struggles the Cubs have experienced six weeks into the season, many fans and media were quick to pin this loss on the pen. Yes, while they were directly responsible for giving up the game tying and winning runs late, this game was lost by the Cubs on the offensive side of the ball. The North Siders ended the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings with double play ground outs that killed any scoring threats in each inning and they also wasted back to back singles in the fifth with a Starlin Castro double play. Four twin killings. Four! If you thought the lack of clutch hitting with RISP was bad, continuously hitting into double plays would make you want to run into a brick wall without ivy.
Both St. Louis and the Cubs ended up with 11 hits on the day, but the Cardinals obviously were more efficient with theirs when it came to actually generating runs. The Cubs dropped to 13-21 on the season and the Cardinals padded their lead over the North Siders to 8.5 games.