Despite their disappointing record, the Chicago Cubs have 73 quality starts this season, which ranks fifth in the big leagues.
Unfortunately, as was the case Sunday against the Cardinals, many of these have gone to waste for a variety of reasons. This time, it was the typical combination of a stagnant offense and spotty relief work by the Chicago bullpen that resulted in a 6-1 loss.
Edwin Jackson (7-13) continued his recent stretch of solid work, tossing six innings, allowing three runs – only one of which was earned – while allowing six hits and four walks, while striking out three.
Jackson’s counterpart, Adam Wainwright finally notched his 14th win, after being unsuccessful in several starts prior to Sunday. Although he did not notch a shutout, he allowed just one run that came on a Junior Lake RBI double in the sixth that scored David DeJesus.
The Cardinals added a second three run-inning in top of the seventh off the newest member of the Cubs’ bullpen, starter-turned-reliever Carlos Villanueva. Matt Holliday opened the inning with a screaming liner that was snagged by a leaping Starlin Castro, who was back in the lineup after being removed from Saturday’s game following a mental miscue.
Allen Craig then drew a walk, and was followed by the haunting bat of Yadier Molina, who continued to terrorize Cubs’ pitching with his second double of the day, moving Craig from first to third with just one out in the frame. Pitching coach Chris Bosio came to the mound, and before Villanueva faced another batter, Dale Sveum opted to bring in his left-hander James Russell.
Jay greeted Russell abruptly, taking a pitch to the opposite field bleachers, driving in three runs and pushing the St. Louis advantage to 6-1 over Chicago (53-70). The southpaw quickly bounced back, retiring the next two batters to end the inning without any further damage.
The Cubs’ half of the seventh was fairly uneventful, at least in terms of offensive output, but both Sveum and Russell were ejected after Donnie Murphy was called out on strikes on a check swing by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi and third base umpire Tom Hallion. Sveum believed that Murphy did not swing, yet the home player umpire did not appeal to first before calling Murphy out. Replays later showed that he did, in fact, check his swing.
Wainwright (14-7) headed to the shower after seven innings of work, allowing the lone run on five hits while striking out eleven and walking just one.
Lake led the Cubs’ offense, notching a trio of hits in four at-bats on the afternoon, two of which came off Wainwright. The Cubs had runners on the corners with one out in the eighth against reliever Kevin Siegrist, but the inning came to an end when Anthony Rizzo flew out to Holliday in left field, and DeJesus was thrown out trying to tag up and score.
Chicago opens a series against the struggling Washington Nationals on Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Nationals’ probable pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, is eying his 15th win of the season, while Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija (6-11) looks to get back on track after a recent stretch of trouble. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT.