After not winning a series since September 2013, the Cubs struck gold this weekend versus the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. In Friday’s contest, Travis Wood pitched seven strong innings and new closer Hector Rondon ended the game with a one-two-three ninth inning. Even more impressive, the Cubs handed Cardinal’s starter Adam Wainwright his first ever loss at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs touched Wainwright for six runs in five innings. Anthony Rizzo proved to be the offensive hero of the game with a home run and three runs batted in. Cubs’ catcher Welington Castillo added three doubles while Emilio Bonifacio and Ryan Sweeney each contributed two hits in the winning effort. When all was said and done, the Cubs had won the game by a score of 6-5.
Game two of the series also resulted in a Cubs victory in front of 37,874 fans at Wrigley Field. Cubs’ starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, just activated from the disabled list, pitched 5.1 scoreless innings while striking out seven batters. Arrieta, who joined the Cubs along with Pedro Strop in last July’s trade of Scott Feldman, will be relied upon to help stabilize the team’s starting rotation following the failed Carlos Villanueva experiment as a starter. Once again, the Cubs’ bullpen did its job and allowed no runs for the remainder of the game. Neil Ramirez, a former first-round supplemental draft pick in 2007 whom the Cubs acquired in the Matt Garza trade, continued to overmatch batters with back-to-back strike outs in the seventh inning. The aforementioned Strop threw a scoreless eighth inning and Hector Rondon closed out his second game in as many days.
Offensively, the recently maligned Junior Lake broke out with a three for three performance that included a two-run home run in the sixth inning to put the Cubs ahead for good. Anthony Rizzo continued his hot hitting with a solo homerun in the eighth inning. Starlin Castro added two hits, including a double, and scored a run. The Cubs prevailed 3–0.
In game three of the series, the Cubs and Cardinals matched up under the lights for a nationally televised Sunday night game. The Cubs showed great mercy in allowing the Cardinals to salvage the final game of the set. Normally steady starter Jason Hammel allowed three Cardinals’ runs in six innings to stake the visiting team a 3 – 0 lead. The Cubs fought back and tied the game thanks to a two-run single by Hammel in the bottom of the fourth inning and a wild pitch that scored Luis Valbuena following his two-out triple in the seventh inning. Carlos Villanueva and Justin Grimm held the Cardinals in check for the seventh and eighth innings, but normally reliable Hector Rondon gave up a pair of runs in the ninth inning to put the Cardinals ahead by two runs. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cubs rallied to bring the score to within one when Emilio Bonifacio walked and subsequently scored on a Valbuena double to deep left center field. Unfortunately, Cardinals’ closer Trevor Rosenthal induced Anthony Rizzo to ground out to preserve the Cardinals’ win. The Cardinals escaped the final game of the series with a 5-4 win.