Game Report: Cubs 5, Cardinals 0

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals did not need any reminders of how well John Lackey pitches at Busch Stadium, but he gave them one any way on Monday night.

In his first career start against the Cardinals, Lackey pitched just the way he did for them in 2014 and 2015, working seven shutout innings and striking out 11, his most in almost two years, as the Cubs won the opener of the three-game series.

Lackey allowed just four hits as he lowered his career ERA at Busch Stadium to 1.94 (35 earned runs in 162 1/3 innings) covering 23 regular-season games. He also pitched one scoreless inning in relief for the Red Sox in game four of the 2013 World Series.

His ERA at Busch Stadium is the best in any ballpark in which he has started at least four games and also is the best of any pitcher who has started 10 or more games at Busch Stadium.

“Guys were having trouble picking him up,” said manager Mike Matheny. “You could tell he was amped up. He got us to expand the zone. He had a lot of chases.”

The win gave Lackey at least one win over every major-league team in his career.

The other former Cardinal in the game, Jason Heyward, was 0-of-4.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
The only time the Cardinals threatened against Lackey was in the fifth when Kolten Wong singled with one out and Aledmys Diaz doubled in a scoreless game. Mike Leake missed an attempted squeeze play, and even though Wong got back to third, Lackey got out of jam by striking out Leake and Matt Carpenter … Wong’s hit was only his second in his last 20 at-bats … The four hits tied the lowest total for the Cardinals in a game this season … The Cardinals finished with 14 strikeouts, matching their most in a game this season, from opening day in Pittsburgh. Brandon Moss struck out four times, the second time he has done that as a Cardinal and the seventh time in his career.

On the mound:
Leake matched Lackey’s performance until Dexter Fowler homered leading off the sixth before the Cubs increased the lead to 4-0 in the seventh … Fowler’s homer was only the sixth allowed by the Cardinals this season. They had been tied with the Mets for the fewest home runs allowed in the NL with five … Leake lost to the Cubs for the first time since April 21, 2012 … The Cubs added their final run in the eighth off Tyler Lyons.

In the field: Diaz’s error in the seventh led to the three-run inning. It was his fourth of the season on 30 chances and the seventh error committed by a Cardinals shortstop in 13 games, the most in the major leagues. No other NL team has committed more than three errors at shortstop this season. It also was the 15th total error for the team this season, the most in the NL.

Key stat: The Cubs recorded only their fourth shutout in St. Louis in the last 20 years, covering 154 games since 1997. The other three came in 1997, in 2013 and on Sept. 7 last year.

Of note:
Before the game the Cardinals activated Ruben Tejada from the disabled list and optioned Greg Garcia, who was hitting .600, to Triple A Memphis. Garcia’s 10 at-bats were the fewest for a position player on the Cardinals other than backup catcher Eric Fryer’s six at-bats. “We told him he did everything we asked,” said Matheny, who said the move was based more on Garcia’s role as a backup player than his production … Lackey’s 11 strikeouts were the most by a Cubs pitcher against the Cardinals since Carlos Silva struck out 11 on May 19,2010 at Wrigley Field. They were the most by a Cubs pitcher in St. Louis since Carlos Zambrano fanned 12 Cardinals on July 22, 2005.

Looking ahead:
Jaime Garcia, coming off a 1-hit, 13-strikeout shutout in his last start against the Brewers, will start for the Cardinals Tuesday night while Jason Hammel will get the start for the Cubs.