By Bruce Levine-
WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) — Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said the goal of the franchise was to win the series and the Cubs attained that goal on Saturday. Not “The Series,” but finally their first series win of 2014.
A strong effort by Jake Arrieta and the bullpen gave the team back-to-back wins over St Louis. The Cubs had not won a series since September 11, 2013.
The Cubs also won three straight for the first time since July 26-28 of last season. Junior Lake had the telling blow with a two-run homer in 6th inning off of Michael Wacha. Hot-hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a line-drive solo home run in the top of the 8th to help salt away the victory.
Manager Rickey Renteria has watched his club continue to improve while winning four of their last five games.
“It’s two games,” Renteria said. “There is a long season ahead of us. I will measure up where we are at the end of the season. Is it nice to get these two behind us? Sure, but there is a long season ahead of us. We have to maintain our approach and play the game of baseball, there will be peaks and valleys. Right now we are in a good place.”
Lake has had just marginal success so far this season. Renteria has tried to pick and choose proper match ups for his evolving young players.
“They are basically presenting themselves when they go out and perform,” the manager said. “When we put them in we are looking at the matchups that allow them some comfort. The confidence comes a little more and they continue to pound away and play good baseball. All and all, we try to balance it with conversation and playing time. They can also learn a lot when they are sitting on the bench.”
Arrieta had been rehabbing a sore shoulder since reporting to spring training on February 10. He threw 80 pitches in 5.1 innings allowing four hits and two walks.
“This one reminded me a lot of my start against them last year [August 16, 2013-7 shutout innings]” Arrieta said. “I was able to eventually bear down and just maintain my focus. That was what I was able to do.”
Lake has made the Cardinals his personal whipping children this season. He is 6-13 with two home runs and 3 RBI in five games against the Cubs’ number one rival this season.
The Cubs had gone 14 straight series without winning one until this weekend.