ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chicago Cubs starter Travis Wood seems to keep pitching better every outing. He just has very little to show for it.
Wood (5-6) dropped his third straight start Monday night in St. Louis, as he came out on the short end of a 5-2 score. He allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings.
The loss was the third straight for Wood, despite the fact that he has a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings of work in those three contests.
“Just wasn’t enough really,” Wood said. “I felt like I was making pitches and keeping them off balance pretty good. They got to me there in the fourth. They hit some good pitches and they did what they did. They’re a good ball club over there.”
Chicago’s offense has been dormant while Wood is pitching. The Cubs have scored nine runs in Wood’s six losses.
“He threw another good game,” said Chicago manager Dale Sveum. “It’s a stellar outing for seven. He pitched really good again against the best offense in baseball.”
Chicago fell to 8-22 against the National League Central, the lowest winning percentage by any team in its own division (.266). The Cubs are 5-23 when they score three runs or less,
“It’s tough for the team,” Wood said. “We’re scratching and clawing trying to get everything we can right now and trying to put together quality ball games.
“We’re falling a little short right now, but it’s a good group of guys. We’re going to eventually get it together and string together some wins.”
Rookie Shelby Miller pitched five shutout innings and Yadier Molina had a two-run double to lead the Cardinals.
Miller (8-4), who had to wait out a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes to start the game, left due to cramping in his right leg. He allowed just two hits and struck out five in the shortest start of his career. His previous shortest stint was 5 1-3 innings at Los Angeles on May 26.
Kevin Siegrist and Seth Manness followed Miller and combined for two shutout innings before Trevor Rosenthal allowed a run in the eighth on a broken bat single by Nate Schierholtz. Edward Mujica gave up a homer to Darwin Barney with two outs in the ninth, but still earned his 20th save in 20 opportunities.
Molina also had a single in four at-bats to raise his average to a National League leading .355. Shane Robinson and Allen Craig added sacrifice flies for the Cardinals, who moved back to a major league best 20 games over .500 (45-25).
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday started the inning with singles, and Beltran then went to third on Craig’s long fly out to right. Molina then drove both Beltran and Holiday home with a double to the gap in right center.
St. Louis began the seventh the same way, with Molina and David Freese getting singles. Molina would score on a throwing error by first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Freese came home on Robinson’s sacrifice fly.
Craig’s sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.
NOTES: The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (10-3) will try to become the Major League’s first 11-game winner when he opposes Jeff Samardzija (3-7) in the second game of the series Tuesday. … Sveum was ejected with one in the seventh inning after arguing with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn over whether Molina had eluded Wood’s tag. “It’s a big play in the game at that time,” Sveum said. “He blocks the plate and gets there. It’s just an out call.” St. Louis is 17-7 in the first game of a series. … Schierholtz has a nine-game hitting streak, equaling his career best.
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