Cardinals spoil Lester's milestone night
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester had more hits himself than the Cardinals did through six innings, but he and the Cubs couldn't shut down St. Louis completely.
Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly and Kolten Wong added an RBI single in the seventh to lift the Cardinals to a 6-0 rain-interrupted victory on Monday night over Lester and the Cubs, who dropped to 2-8 against their National League Central rivals.
John Lackey picked up the win against his former Red Sox teammate, scattering six hits over seven innings in front of 37,609 fans at Wrigley Field. The game was delayed one hour and 16 minutes after the Cardinals eighth because of rain.
"It was fun facing my boy, for sure," Lackey said of matching up against his former Red Sox teammate. "He pitched great. I knew I was going to have to pitch well, because he was really dialed in tonight. He pitched well."
Lester, who ended an 0-for-66 hitless streak with an infield single in the second, walked Matt Carpenter with one out in the first and then retired 18 in a row before Jhonny Peralta reached on an infield single in the seventh, a hit that third baseman Kris Bryant deflected. Peralta eventually scored on Molina's sac fly.
"It felt good -- I had pretty good command of everything," Lester said. "The end result isn't what we want."
Lester was charged with two unearned runs on two hits over seven innings and finished with eight strikeouts. He's now winless in a career-high nine straight starts.
"I thought it was Lester's best night, by far," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought it was the best he's thrown the baseball all year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wong's web gem: One day after saving a run with a diving catch in center, second baseman Wong added to his highlight reel, this time saving the Cubs from scoring first by starting a sensational double play to end the sixth. Chicago opened the inning with back-to-back singles off Lackey, who followed with a strikeout of Miguel Montero. Wong then made a diving stop on Starlin Castro's sharp grounder and flipped the ball to shortstop Peralta, who finished the turn.
"Making the dive, I knew there was a chance to make a double play," Wong said. "The rest was just reaction. I always mess with throwing [from] different arm angles, so I was comfortable staying down on one knee, and we were able to turn the double play."
Said Lester: "That right there changed the game." More >
Breaking through: Held hitless for six innings, the Cardinals finally broke through against Lester when Peralta hit a sharp ground ball that caromed off Bryant's glove. The Cardinals found some offensive traction from there, using a subsequent Bryant throwing error, Molina's sacrifice fly and an RBI single from Wong to score twice.
"I was [looking for] something in the middle [of the plate] or [to] take, because I know they were going to pitch around me," Molina said. "He threw it on the corner, and I put a good swing on it."
Growing pains: The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the second after Lester collected his first Major League hit, an infield single, but rookie Addison Russell struck out to end the frame. Before the game, Maddon defended the 21-year-old second baseman, who has struggled at the plate. Said Maddon: "I have no problems with his approach, his bat speed. It's going to happen, and this kid is going to be really good."
"[The Cardinals] are a veteran team. They do everything right. They make the plays when they're in front of them. They have timely hitting. They understand it takes nine innings to win a baseball game. We're close. We've got a bunch of young guys who are trying to ... I don't want to say 'survive,' because they're beyond that point. They're too good to survive. When you're used to winning, you understand how to win. That will take some time here. The guys who have been a part of this organization haven't won for a long time. That'll take some time to learn, and sometimes I think nights like this get overshadowed by the other side." -- Lester
"I'll autograph it. And I'll put 'You lost,' too." -- Lackey, when asked if his buddy Lester would ask him to autograph the ball from his first hit
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Lester's hitless streak ended in the second inning, when he hit an infield single for his first hit in 67 at-bats. He had the longest hitless streak by an active pitcher in the Majors. The Rockies' Chad Bettis is now the leader, at 0-for-30.
ON THE RUN
As they did when they faced Lester at Wrigley Field on Opening Day, the Cardinals took advantage of his inability to hold runners on effectively by swiping three bases in three attempts on Monday. They similarly stole three (in four tries) back on April 5, meaning that six of the Cardinals' 36 stolen bases this season have come in Lester's pair of home starts against them.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will start a pair of young lefties in Tuesday's doubleheader. Tyler Lyons has drawn the Game 1 start and will be added to the roster as a "26th man" before first pitch at 12:20 p.m. CT. He is 2-0 with a 5.09 ERA in five spot starts for the Cardinals this season. Tim Cooney will start Game 2 at 7:05 p.m. CT after being recalled on Sunday. This will be Cooney's third Major League start. He allowed three runs (two earned) in a no-decision last Thursday.
Cubs: The Cubs will play two on Tuesday with a makeup day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals. Jake Arrieta will start the first game, and right-hander Dallas Beeler will be added for the night game. Arrieta is 4-1 in his last six starts, and 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three against the Cardinals. Beeler started two games last season for the Cubs and is looking for his first Major League win. He went 1-5 with a 6.33 ERA in 13 games at Triple-A Iowa this season.
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