Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 1, Cubs 0
By Rob Rains
If it seems that Albert Pujols is doing something historic almost every night lately for the Cardinals, that’s because he is.
On Monday night, however, he had to share the history-making headlines with Jordan Montgomery.
Pujols’ home run leading off the seventh inning was the only run Montgomery needed to defeat the Cubs as he became only the second pitcher in major-league history to win his first four starts for a team and not allow more than one run. The only other pitcher to do that was Fernando Valenzuela for the Dodgers in 1981.
Montgomery did it by throwing the first shutout of his career, allowing just one hit, and also pulled off a “Maddux” in the park where Greg Maddux stared for much of his career, getting the game’s final out on his 99th pitch.
No other Cardinal pitcher had won his first four starts with the team since 1941.
No other Cardinal pitcher had thrown a one-hitter at Wrigley Field since Joe Magrane in 1988 and Magrane also was the last Cardinal lefthander to shut out the Cubs at Wrigley, doing that in 1990.
Pujols’ home run was the 693rd of his career and was the first of his career against Drew Smyly, the 449th pitcher to allow at least one home run to Pujols. That ties Barry Bonds for the most in baseball history.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals managed only four hits, two of them from Pujols, who also had a single in the second inning … Their other hits were singles by Nolan Arenado in the fourth and Dylan Carlson in the sixth. Carlson reached base three times, also drawing a pair of walks … Pujols has now hit six homers in his last 21 at-bats over a span of seven games, starting in five of them … It was the first 1-0 win for the Cardinals at Wrigley with the only run scoring on a home run since July 27, 2014 on Matt Holliday’s homer, the only other time that had happened since Tommy Herr homered in a 1-0 win in 1986.
On the mound: The only hit off Montgomery was a two-out double to left in the third inning by ninth-place hitter Christopher Morel, the only baserunner of the night for the Cubs. Montgomery retired the other 27 hitters he faced, striking out seven. He benefitted from two outstanding defensive plays, one by Nolan Arenado in the fifth and one by Tommy Edman in the eighth … The last Cardinal pitcher to throw a “Maddux” was Adam Wainwright last year and he became the 15th pitcher to do so in franchise history, but the first ever to do it at Wrigley … Magrane threw three career shutouts at Wrigley and the only other Cardinals lefthander to post a shutout there since 1960 was Steve Carlton in 1970.
Key stat: In his four starts for the Cardinals, Montgomery has allowed one run in 25 2/3 innings while giving up 13 hits, walking three and striking out 24. Since the Aug; 2 trade the Yankees have won a total of five of their 19 games, with only two of the wins from their starting pitcher.
Worth noting: The Cardinals improved their record in August to 16-3 as they won their season-high eighth game of the year and moved to a season-best 19 games above .500 … This was the sixth 1-0 win for the Cardinals in history at Wrigley, with the run coming on a home run, since 1923 … The last time the Cardinals won a game 1-0 on a home run by Pujols was on July 25, 2006, at Colorado … Yadier Molina, as expected, was activated from the restricted list but Ryan Helsley was placed on the restricted list after his maximum three days on the paternity list expired … Pujols and Paul Goldschmidt were named the NL co-players of the week for last week.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals and Cubs will play a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday, with Adam Wainwright starting game one and Jake Woodford game two.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains