Lake leads barrage as Cubs rout Cardinals
Outfielder drives in six as Chicago notches season highs in runs, hits
ST. LOUIS -- In Jeff Samardzija's eight starts this season, the Cubs have scored a total of 15 runs. On Monday, they tallied 17 against the Cardinals, which helped Travis Wood pick up the win.
"I instantly came in here and gave Samardzija a hug and said, 'Sorry,'" Wood said. "We were all on spot tonight. The offense played great, played their 'A' game. We played good all around."
Junior Lake drove in a career-high six runs, and rookie Mike Olt belted a two-run homer to back Wood and power the Cubs to a 17-5 victory over the Cardinals. The last time the Cubs scored 17 or more runs in St. Louis was on Sept. 21, 1974, in a 19-4 win over the Cardinals.
With the win, the Cubs took a 4-3 lead in the season series while notching season highs in runs and hits (20). In the just-completed three-game series in Atlanta, they mustered four runs in three games.
"That's what makes baseball so much fun," Olt said. "You never know what's going to happen. We came out aggressive today and carried through the whole game."
Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro each drove in three runs to help Wood pick up his second win this month over the Cardinals. The lefty, who beat them May 2 at Wrigley Field, served up five runs -- four earned -- on five hits and three walks over six innings at Busch Stadium.
Wood is the first Cubs starting pitcher to throw at least six innings and give up more than three earned runs and pick up the win since Matt Garza did so on June 16, 2011, against the Brewers.
He appreciated the offense, which has been tough to come by for the Cubs, who rank 13th in the National League in runs scored. But they hit for the cycle in the first against Tyler Lyons, who was making his fourth start. Emilio Bonifacio doubled and scored one out later on a passed ball charged to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Rizzo singled and scored on Castro's triple, and Olt ended an 0-for-7 streak when he launched the next pitch over the right-field fence for his eighth homer and a 4-0 lead. Olt tops all NL rookies with eight homers and 19 RBIs.
"I'm not worried about the hits -- they're going to come," Olt said. "I was happy with my approach on every at-bat today. I stuck with it and had a plan going into the game and didn't second guess myself."
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter made a nice stop on Wood's hard-hit ball with one out in the second, but the pitcher beat the throw for a single. Bonifacio then singled, and both runners scored on Lake's homer for a 7-0 lead.
"He's electric for sure," Wood said of Lake. "When he's on, he's on. He's got tremendous pop off the bat. It's nice to see it come out."
The Cubs still have plenty to work on. The Cardinals had two on and two outs in the second when Mark Ellis singled to left. Lake took a "do-or-die" approach, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said, and overran the ball for an error as two runs scored.
Lake added an RBI double in the fourth, and the Cubs had a runner at third when Rizzo hit a grounder to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who threw home to get Bonifacio. Home-plate umpire Sean Barber called Bonifacio out, but Renteria challenged the call and after a replay review, it was overturned. Rizzo was credited with an RBI and the Cubs led, 9-2.
Bonifacio finished with a career-high five runs, the most in MLB this season. He's the first Cubs player to score five in a game since Jody Davis did on June 3, 1987, and the 14th Cubs player since 1900 to score five runs in a game.
Rizzo's three RBIs came in three different at-bats, and none as a result of a hit. He did single in the first, and every Cubs starter finished with at least one knock. It's all part of hitting coach Bill Mueller's emphasis to do the little things.
"Maybe we were trying to do too much before," Olt said.
The Cardinals took advantage of defensive lapses in the fifth to score three runs. St. Louis had runners at first and second with one out when Matt Holliday hit an RBI double. Allen Craig hit a grounder to Olt, who hesitated, then threw to first rather than home, allowing another run to score. Holliday tallied on Molina's single to center, which Bonifacio fielded and overthrew the cutoff man and everyone else with his throw home.
"Hard-hit ball hit to me, I'm trying to get one out," Olt said. "I wasn't double pumping, I just didn't see Rizzo there, and I waited. We could've maybe gotten the guy at home, but at that time in the game, just want to get a guy out."
Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly and Castro added an RBI double in the sixth. Lake added a two-run double in a six-run ninth.
The Cardinals resorted to infielder Daniel Descalso to get the final out in the ninth. He faced Olt and got him to fly out to left. He's the first position player to pitch against the Cubs since the Pirates' Abraham Nunez did so on May 30, 2004.
"You don't want to lose an at-bat," Olt said. "You want to keep the same mentality. I definitely went in there as if it was another pitcher."
"They asked me to go get an out, throw strikes," Descalso said. "We got [beat bad] tonight. It's never a good feeling."
Wood felt fine, except for the fifth when he hit two batters, beginning with Greg Garcia.
"I lost it there for a second," Wood said. "The Garcia at-bat, that can't happen. It's almost like I forgot how to throw a baseball for a second."
Wood led off the sixth and was plunked. No warnings were issued.
"I guess that's the limit," Wood said. "Hit two guys and you get hit yourself. It is what it is."
Renteria admitted he wasn't comfortable, even with the huge lead.
"You have to continue to grind and play," he said. "The Cardinals don't give up. You don't take anything for granted."
Even with a 12-run lead.