Arrieta moves to 9-0 as Cubs win series over Cardinals


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<span style=Photo by Dennis Wierzbicki / USATODAY">
Photo by Dennis Wierzbicki / USATODAY

In the rubber match of their three-game series at Busch Stadium versus the St. Louis Cardinals (24-23), the Chicago Cubs (31-14) were able to squeak out the W in what was a high-scoring affair. Winning 9-8, the Cubs earned their second series victory at St. Louis this season and became the first team to surpass 30 wins.

Chicago poured in the runs early, scoring six through the first two innings. Despite suffering through his worst start of the season, Cubs ace Jake Arrieta earned the win and moved to 9-0 on the year. The victory for Chicago tied a Major League record for consecutive regular season wins by a team with a certain starter on the hill, as this win marked the 23rd straight regular season victory for the Cubs with Arrieta starting. As for Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, he was shellacked from the get-go and gave up six runs in five innings pitched. Earning the loss for his troubles, his fifth straight, Martinez fell to 4-5 this season.

Left fielder Kris Bryant was phenomenal at the plate for the Cubs on the afternoon, scoring three on a moonshot to left field in the top of sixth. However, the top of the second saw the most offensive action for the Cubs, with six runs crossing the plate. In an inning that featured success by way of small ball, former Cardinal and current Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward offered the only power for the inning, pounding a two-run double to right.

Heyward, who has struggled with injuries as of late, has been quiet against his former team so far this season, but his double today provided meaningful insurance runs that ultimately came in handy. The Cards actually took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and cut their deficit to 6-2 via a Randal Grickuk home run in the bottom of the second. But a double by first baseman Matt Adams in the bottom of the fourth scored a run and made the game interesting again. Grichuk brought Adams home soon after with a single to right, and, two innings later, veteran outfielder Matt Holliday answered Bryant’s three-run dinger with one of his own, pulling the Cardinals back within two.

The three-run shot by Holliday came off of reliever Adam Warren, who had just replaced Arrieta at the start of the inning. Shaky relief pitching, one of the few hindrances for the Cubs off and on so far this season, nearly cost Chicago the game, as Travis Wood, who replaced Warren in the seventh, gave up a homer himself, this one to Adams. Adams was a one-man wrecking crew for the Cardinals this afternoon, going 3-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Cubs closer Hector Rondon was shaky, too, allowing the first two batters he faced in the top of the ninth to reach base. Despite his early struggles, Rondon collected himself and struck out the next two batters. The Cardinals’ last hope, pinch hitter Jedd Gyorko, grounded out with a chance to tie the game with a base hit, and the Cubs emerged victorious. As for Rondon, he earned a save for his clutch outing.

In a game that featured 17 total runs and 22 total hits, the Cubs clearly carried forward the offensive momentum from the previous game, which they won 12-3. As for the Cardinals, they came up just short, symbolic of the turning of the tide in the National League Central. While the Cards have reigned supreme in that division for over a decade now, there is a new sheriff in town, as the Cubs are clearly the best and brightest of the NL Central now.

After a nine-game road trip, the Cubs return home to Wrigley Field on Friday, when they will take on the surprising Philadelphia Phillies (26-21) in the first game of a three-game series. Jon Lester of Chicago will take the mound and square off against Adam Morgan of Philadelphia.

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