By Rob Rains
Carlos Martinez pitched well enough to get a win on Sunday night but didn’t get the help he needed from the team’s offense and defense.
Martinez allowed just four hits and no earned runs in seven innings but that wasn’t enough to prevent the Cardinals from being swept by the Cubs in the three-game series at Wrigley Field with a 2-0 loss Sunday.
The Cardinals fell to 32-33, falling below .500 for the first time since April 23. They’ve now lost 11 of their past 13 games and have fallen six games behind the Cubs in the N.L. Central.
“This is just one of those stretches,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “There’s valleys in this game and there’s always peaks and we’re going to hit a nice peak and keep climbing.
“We’ve played a lot of good baseball this year. We just have to be more consistent and put it all together. When we do that, watch out.”
The Cardinals offense had just two hits and a key error by Paul DeJong contributed to the Cubs scoring both of their runs in the third inning.
Here’s how Sunday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals first hit was a single by Tyler O’Neill in the fifth inning, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. … Dylan Carlson had the other hit, a double leading off the seventh, but he was stranded there. … O’Neill drew a walk with two outs in the seventh but Molina grounded out to end the inning. … In the ninth Paul Goldschmidt drew a one-out walk but Nolan Arenado and O’Neill struck out against Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel to end the game.
On the mound: Martinez, who had allowed 15 earned runs in his past two starts, allowed both Cubs runs in the third inning. Eric Sogard doubled and scored with two outs on the error by DeJong. Singles by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs their second run. Martinez allowed just one hit after the third, a fifth-inning single by pitcher Zach Davies. … Ryan Helsey worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth to give the Cardinals a final chance in the ninth.
Key stat: Sunday was the first time the Cardinals have been shut out at Wrigley Field with 2 or fewer hits since August 16th, 2013, against Jake Arrieta.
Worth noting: Martinez was the first Cardinals pitcher to throw seven or more innings and allow zero earned runs and strike out six or more batters and lose since Joaquin Andujar against the Houston Astros on April 8th, 1982. .. Kyung Hyun Kim threw a bullpen before Sunday’s game and is expected to come off the injured list to start Tuesday against the Marlins.
Looking ahead: Adam Wainwright will look to end the 3-game losing streak when he starts Monday against the Miami Marlins in the opener of a 3-game series at Busch Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m.
Mike Shildt Post-Game Interview