Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

By Rob Rains

It had been nearly 34 years since the Cardinals held the Cubs to one hit in a game in St. Louis. It only seemed that long to Jack Flaherty since his last win.

After starting 12 games that stretched across the country from New York to Seattle and San Francisco with several stops in between, Flaherty finally won his first game since May 14 on Thursday night and he did it in style.

Flaherty allowed only one hit, a two-out single in the sixth inning by Nicholas Castellanos – playing his first game after being acquired by the Cubs on Wednesday – over seven innings as the Cardinals won the series over the Cubs and once again claimed sole possession of first place in the NL Central.

His pitch-count was creeping up – Flaherty finished the seventh with 98 pitches – so it was doubtful he could have had a chance to complete a no-hitter had Castellanos not got the clean single to right, but after several games in which he pitched well and didn’t get a win, Flaherty was happy to just get the W.

Starting with the final game before the All-Star break when he lost a no-hit bid in the seventh on a home run by Evan Longoria – which also made him the losing pitcher – Flaherty had allowed a total of four runs in four starts, covering 24 1/3 innings – but was just 0-1 with three no decisions to show for that effort.

His luck was better on Thursday night thanks to a big night from his teammates, who broke out of their inability to deliver key hits with runners in scoring position. They finished the game with five hits in 15 at-bats with runners on second or third after getting a combined three hits in those situations in the previous four games.

It was the second biggest shutout for the Cardinals over the Cubs in Busch Stadium 3, trailing only a 12-0 win in 2012.

Their last one-hitter over the Cubs in St. Louis was a complete game, 8-0 win by John Tudor on Aug. 8, 1985. Chicago’s only hit was a single by Leon Durham in the fifth inning.

It also was the first one-hitter by the Cubs over the Cardinals since Joe Magrane held them to one hit at Wrigley Field, a second-inning single by Vance Law, on Aug. 12, 1988.

It was the Cardinals’ sixth one-hitter at Busch 3. The most recent came from Jaime Garcia over Milwaukee on April 14, 2016, with the only hit a sixth-inning single by Domingo Santana.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: When Jose Martinez singled to drive in a run in the first inning, following a leadoff double by Tommy Edman, it was their first hit that drove in a run with a runner in scoring position since last Friday. Since that hit, a home run from Paul Goldschmidt, they had been just 3-of-41 with runners on second or third … One of Kolten Wong’s three singles drove in another run in the fourth before a four-run sixth, capped by a three-run homer from Matt Wieters, broke the game open … They added additional runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Yairo Munoz and in the eighth when Rangel Ravelo grounded into a double play with the bases loaded … Wong has reached base in a career-high 20 games … When Martinez drew a walk leading off the seventh, it snapped a franchise-record 31-inning streak by the Cardinals without drawing a walk, breaking a record of 30 innings in 2003, They had not drawn a walk since the first inning on Sunday.

On the mound: The Cubs’ only two other baserunners both reached base on walks off Flaherty. Castellanos walked on a 3-2 pitch in the first and Kyle Schwarber walked on four pitches with two outs in the fifth … Flaherty struck out nine, one shy of his season high … In his last five starts, dating back to the game in San Francisco, Flaherty has allowed a total of 15 hits in 31 1/3 innings while walking 9 and striking out 39. His ERA over those starts is 1.15 … Tyler Webb and Mike Mayers completed the one-hitter by retiring the Cubs in order in the eighth and ninth … It was the Cardinals’ fifth shutout of the season, all of which have come at home.

Key stat: The home run from Wieters was his 10th of the season, in 130 at-bats. He’s the first Cardinals’ catcher to hit 10 home runs in a season, other than Yadier Molina, since Tom Pagnozzi hit 13 in 1996. From 2011 through the end of last season, the Cardinals’ backup catchers combined had nine home runs (five from Tony Cruz) in a combined 1,242 at-bats.

Worth noting: Matt Carpenter broke his 0-of-22 streak on his minor-league rehab journey between Memphis and Springfield on Thursday night with an RBI double to right field in his second at-bat and then delivered a two-run single … Marcell Ozuna had a better night, going 3-of-4 with five RBIs, including a three-run homer. Ozuna is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Friday as the Cardinals decide whether to activate him from the injured list for this weekend’s games in Oakland … Carpenter will be joined in Memphis on Friday by Molina as he begins a rehab assignment. The Cardinals say Molina will not rejoin the team on its upcoming trip to Oakland and Los Angeles but left open the possibility he could be ready to return when the team gets back home on Aug. 9 … Munoz was a late replacement in the lineup for Tyler O’Neill, who has been bothered by a sore hand.

Looking ahead: After a rare day off on Friday, the Cardinals will open a quick two-game trip to Oakland on Saturday night before heading to Los Angeles for three games. Dakota Hudson will get the start in the opener against the A’s.

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.