CHICAGO (AP) — The Cubs’ run-scoring problems continued on Wednesday, which didn’t help Chris Volstad’s cause to end a 10-month winless drought.
David Freese homered and Lance Lynn threw eight strong innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday afternoon.
Volstad (0-3) threw six solid innings in his start for the Cubs, retiring St. Louis in order during four of them. But he’s still 0-8 in 15 starts since July 10, 2011. Freese’s two-run blast in the sixth capped a three-run, two-out rally against Volstad.
“One swing, two outs,” Volstad said. “You’ve got to be able to close those innings out. All the runs they scored were with two outs. One swing of the bat put us in a big hole.”
Volstad set the Cardinals down in order in four of his six innings.
“For the most part, it was a much improved outing,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Just pitched much more aggressively and used his sinker. Did a pretty good job for the most part.”
Bryan LaHair homered to lead off the fourth for Chicago’s only run. He also homered in the ninth inning on Tuesday, sending the game into extra innings before the Cubs eventually won.
“It’s nice,” Sveum said. “Coming in, he was the one guy we needed to hit home runs and he’s hit some big ones for us.”
LaHair has four of Chicago’s seven home runs this season, the lowest total in the majors.
The Cardinals avoided being swept at Wrigley Field for the first time since July 27-30, 2006. The Cubs took the first two games of the series in their final at-bat, winning their first series of the season under new manager Sveum.
“Our first series win was nice,” Sveum said. “We’ve still got to swing the bats a little bit better. Score some runs, get bigger leads to be able to hold on. But it’s nice. Two walk-off wins could have easily gone the other way. The guys battled and we came out on top two out of three games.”
Lynn (4-0) held Chicago to six hits in becoming the first four-game winner in the majors.
“He threw a lot of fastballs,” LaHair said. “He was locating in and out. Kind of up and down. He pitched well today. He challenged us.”
Lynn threw 110 pitches, only the third time this season a Cardinals pitcher has surpassed 100. He’s done it on two of those occasions, not bad for a pitcher who only became a starter because rotation stalwart Chris Carpenter went on the disabled list with a shoulder problem. His eight innings marked the longest outing by a Cardinals pitcher this season, and he lowered his ERA to 1.33.
“He’s got a real heavy fastball,” Sveum said. “He was in and out with it. Made the pitches inside when he had to. He didn’t use a breaking ball all that much because his fastball is really heavy.”
LaHair homered into the left-field bleachers on one of Lynn’s few mistakes, a pitch over the outer part of the plate.
“I’m going pretty good when I go the other way,” LaHair said. “They’re attacking me away right now. They’ll probably start coming in, which is a good thing, too.”
The Cubs had a scoring chance in the fifth, when Darwin Barney led off with a double and David DeJesus drew a one-out walk. Lynn whiffed Tony Campana to stem the tide, escaping with no damage done.
“That was a big one because we could have took the lead right there,” Sveum said. “Kind of changed things around a little bit.”
Freese led the Cardinals offense with two hits and three RBIs. Carlos Beltran doubled, walked, scored two runs and stole two bases. Beltran has five steals on the season, already his most since 2009.
Shane Robinson singled three times and stole a base for St. Louis. His three hits matched a career high.
NOTES: The Cardinals are headed back to St. Louis for a six-game homestand beginning Friday against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. . The Cubs embark on a seven-game trip, with a four-game set beginning at Philadelphia on Friday. They also play three at Cincinnati. . Cubs reliever Kerry Wood threw a bullpen session on Tuesday without incident. He’s on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue. While Wood is eligible to come off the DL on April 29, Sveum said no timetable has been established for his return.
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