It was a showdown of two of the NL Central's best pitchers on Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis. Cubs ace Jon Lester faced off against Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals' best pitcher in the rotation as of late.
The lineups were as follows:
* * *
began the game en fuego, striking out the side.
The Cubs struck first, in the 3rd inning. Javier Baez led the frame with a double. Following a David Ross strikeout, Lester singled to give Chicago the lead. The hit off of Martinez was Lester's 8th career hit; four of his eight hits have come against St. Louis.
Ross added to the Cub lead in the 5th with a two-run homer, and an Anthony Rizzo solo home run in the 6th furthered Chicago's lead to 4-0.
Martinez' outing ended after six innings and 99 pitches; he allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out nine.
Michael Wacha made his return from the DL in the 9th. He allowed three runs in the frame, including Rizzo's second home run of the game.
Hector Rondon threw the 9th for the Cubs; Lester threw 104 pitches in his outing and allowed three hits and a walk, while striking out four.
Stephen Piscotty gave the Cardinals their first hit in the bottom half of the 4th inning. Randal Grichuk and Yadier Molina added the other two hits, in the 5th and 8th innings, respectively.
* * *
In the three-game series against the Cubs, St. Louis was out-hit 20-11, and mustered just three hits over two of those contests (Monday's opener against Kyle Hendricks, and Wednesday). The upcoming road series with San Francisco, a four-game set, will be key for the Redbirds as they vie for a spot in the NL wild card.
The Cardinals began the day a game behind the Giants for the number one spot and a half-game behind the Mets for No. 2. As the Mets have an off day, the Cardinals fall to 1 behind them in the standings.
At the time of this writing, San Diego is taking on the Giants, with former Cardinals farmhand Luis Perdomo taking on Madison Bumgarner. The Padres have taken the first two games in the series, with a three-run 9th inning propelling the Friars in last night's contest. (The score is tied at 1 in the top of the 3rd inning.)
* * *
Next up: Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto square off in the series opener tomorrow, with Luke Weaver facing former Rays lefty Matt Moore on Friday and Mike Leake opposing Jeff Samardzija Saturday (Sunday's pitchers are currently listed as TBAs for both teams; it would Jaime Garcia's spot for St. Louis, while Giants rookie right-hander Albert Sanchez' spot in the rotation is up).
Tomorrow's contest begins at 10:15 pm Eastern / 9:15 pm Central.