ST. LOUIS — For the second straight game, the Cardinals were overpowered by a young Chicago lineup.
Rookies continue to drive the Cubs, as Logan Watkins and Chris Valaika followed Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara’s Friday act with homers of their own.
The newcomers began the scoring in the second inning after Watkins and Valaika reached against Justin Masterson with one out. The St. Louis starter coaxed a fly ball to center, but walked the bases full with two outs. Chris Coglhan notched a two-RBI single, with the second run coming after an overturned call at the plate.
The Cardinals scored their only run in the bottom half of that inning, plating a runner on a 4-6-3 double play.
Chicago stretched the lead in the fourth when Watkins and Valaika went back-to-back on Masterson to lead off the inning. Starlin Castro followed with a solo shot of his own in the fifth, pushing the struggling hurler from the game.
He finished with 4.1 innings on 82 pitches, allowing five runs on six hits. His ERA now sits at 6.03 and he’s 2-3 in six starts as a Cardinal.
“Whenever they get the ball in the air off him, something's not right. Those are very atypical for a guy with a power sinker,” Mike Matheny said. “We're not hearing anything physical.”
The manager didn’t comment on whether Masterson would make his next start, saying it’s too early to address the situation.
His relief was Tyler Lyons, who turned out to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise ugly game.
“You take 10 days off you should feel pretty fresh and I was able to make some pitches,” Lyons said. “I wanted to go right after them and get ahead in counts. That's what we did.”
Seeing his first action since returning from Memphis, the big lefty cruised for the final 4.2 innings. He struck out eight hitters and faced the minimum, silencing the Chicago bats.
“Mentally, I just wanted to attack the zone and that's the approach I took today. My arm felt good and in late August you'll take that whenever you can get it,” he said. “Once you get in there, it doesn't really matter what the situation is you just want to get outs.”
Though Lyons got plenty, the Cardinal offense made too many of their own. They matched Chicago’s seven hits but were unable to mount any sort of rally down the stretch, finishing with 15 men left on base.
“It's late August, I think they're all tired. It's the dog days of this game,” Matheny said. “You're not going to feel good. It's just a part of the gig. Right now we've got to fight, figure out a way to get it done.”
They will have to figure it out fast, as the second game in the double header is less than three hours away.