After not allowing more than three earned runs in any start to this point in the season, Jason Hammel finally showed he’s human today against St. Louis, as a four-run second inning lost it for the Cubs. Michael Wacha drove in two, Matt Carpenter doubled in a run and Mark Ellis added one in that costly second inning, to sink the Cubs by a score of 5-3.
Hammel, likely to be trade bait this summer, did not turn in a start that will be shopped to contenders this afternoon, serving up five earned runs on five hits, while walking two and punching out six Cardinal hitters. Hammel was burned by that one inning, giving up four runs, three runs coming with two outs, including a two-run single from Wacha. After giving up another run in the sixth, the tall right-hander finished with five runs allowed on the afternoon, pushing his ERA over three to 3.06.
Wacha didn’t just perform with the bat this afternoon, as the 6’6″ right-hander tossed seven innings of two-run ball, surrendering seven hits without a walk to go along with five strikeouts. Wacha’s very strong season continued, with his ERA dropping to 2.82 after another typically strong showing for the 22-year-old.
After that four-run second inning, the Cubs would slice the deficit in half just two frames later, with Starlin Castro blasting one to left-field for his sixth homer of the season, and would go on to collect two more knocks to finish 3-for-4 and raise his average to .291.
It took another couple innings for another run to cross the plate, but it was the Cardinals who got back one of those two runs, with Yadier Molina driving home Matt Holliday to make it a 5-2 game, and chase Hammel from the ballgame. Molina continued his killing of the Cubs, finishing with two hits, a walk and an RBI to enrage Cubs fans once again.
The Cubs did attempt a comeback, however, scoring one in the eighth on a Junior Lake sacrifice fly and loading the bases with two outs for pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz. But, as it’s been for Schierholtz all season long, all the lefty could muster was a weak, broken-bat ground ball to the second baseman, stranding the tying and winning runs on base in the late innings.
After coming back against Trevor Rosenthal in game two of the series, the Cubs couldn’t work the magic once again, going down in 1-2-3 fashion to drop their second in a row in St. Louis.
The Cubs will start a three-game set back at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow afternoon, sending ace Jeff Samardzija (1.45 ERA, 2.93 FIP) to the hill at 1:20 CT. The Brew Crew will counter with ageless wonder Kyle Lohse (2.75 ERA, 3.41 FIP), as the Brewers will look to maintain their surprising start atop the National League Central Division.