Game Report: Cubs 2, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals know that to win the NL Central again this season, they will have to win games against their two biggest rivals, the Cubs and Pirates. It just hasn’t happened yet.

The loss to the Cubs Tuesday night at Busch Stadium dropped the Cardinals to 0-5 against Pittsburgh and Chicago. They have gone 7-2 against the Braves, Brewers and Reds.

“Regardless of people claiming one team is better than another, we’ve just got to come out and play good baseball,” said manager Mike Matheny. “We had opportunities to win this game today. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. If we don’t execute in those situations and don’t get the job done and do the little things right, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’ve just got to control what we can control."

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals’ best chances came in the second, when they did score their only run, and in the fourth. In the second, after Matt Adams got picked off second, Yadier Molina tripled to drive in Randal Grichuk. In the fourth, they put runners on second and third with no outs but couldn’t score when Grichuk popped out and Molina flew out to right, which turned into a double play when Jason Heyward threw out Matt Holliday at the plate … The Cardinals were 0-of-8 with runners in scoring position and are a combined 0-of-14 with runners on second and third in the first two games of the series … After his hot start, Jeremy Hazelbaker is now hitless in his last 15 at-bats … Kolten Wong was 0-of-2 , reaching base on a walk and when he was hit by a pitch. He has one hit in his last 23 at-bats.

On the mound:
Jaime Garcia failed in his bid to become the first Cardinal with consecutive shutouts since Matt Morris in 2003. He could not pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, allowing both Chicago runs on a single by the opposing pitcher, Jason Hammel, that snapped his streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings … Seung Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Jonathan Broxton and Matt Bowman all worked a scoreless inning of relief. For Oh, it extended his streak of scoreless innings to begin his career to 7 2/3 innings. He has allowed just one hit and struck out 13.

Key stat:
In their five losses to the Pirates and Cubs, the Cardinals have scored a combined eight runs, with five of them in one game, an average of 1.6 runs per game. In their nine games against the Braves, Brewers and Reds, the Cardinals have scored a combined 78 runs, an average of 8.67 runs a game.

Of note: Ruben Tejada made his Cardinal debut, becoming the team’s fourth starting shortstop in the first 14 games of the season. He went 0-of-2 before Aledmys Diaz pinch-hit for him in the seventh. The Cardinals used three different starting shortstops all of last season … Adams’ two hits broke an 0-of-23 streak against the Cubs that dated back to 2014.

Looking ahead:
The Cardinals will try to salvage the final game of the series on Wednesday in a 12:45 p.m. start. Carlos Martinez will pitch against Kyle Hendricks.