Aug 9, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Chris Rusin (18) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Most Cubs fans thought the departure of Matt Garza last month meant that once every five days it was going to be hard to watch the club’s starting pitching.
Southpaw Chris Rusin has other plans.
Rusin (2-1) tossed six shutout innings, while striking out five batters, in a 3-0 win over the National League Wild Card-leading St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium Friday night.
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn (13-6) was just as impressive, dominating Chicago hitters through the first six frames before the Cubs’ bats finally got to the right-hander in the top of the seventh inning.
Welington Castillo drew a leadoff walk, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Starlin Castro. A walk to Darwin Barney put two men on with only one out, prompting skipper Dale Sveum to make the move for pinch-hitter Logan Watkins, thus ending the night of Rusin. Watkins promptly struck out, making it look like Chicago could be in store for another disappointing performance with runners in scoring position.
But rookie sensation (at least in the minds of most Cubs’ fans) Junior Lake came through in the clutch, ripping a two-out single to score Castillo, and break the shutout that had spanned the first six innings of the ballgame. Following the single, Lynn hit Cole Gillespie with a pitch, which was enough for Cards’ manager Mike Matheny, who motioned for lefty Randy Choate to take on Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo defied logic, lining a single up the middle and plating two insurance runs, as Chicago pushed its lead to 3-0 heading into the late innings.
Chicago was actually outhit by St. Louis, by a seven-to-five margin, with no Cubs player notching more than a single hit in the winning effort. Jon Jay had three hits for the Cardinals and Matt Holliday added a pair of his own, to no avail.