CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Wacha pitched into the seventh inning for his first win in nearly two months and the St. Louis Cardinals waited out Jake Arrieta before roughing up Chicago’s bullpen in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.
Aledmys Diaz hit a two-run home run, and Matt Carpenter had a two-run double in a five-run sixth after Arrieta (11-2) departed. The Cardinals won their eighth straight road game – their longest streak since 1982 – and completed their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since 1988.
Arrieta was charged with two runs – one earned – and four hits in five innings as he struggled with control (four walks) and pitch count (106).
Wacha (3-7) allowed two hits until rookie Willson Contreras’ one-out, two-run homer in the seventh ended his day as he snapped a seven-game skid.
Contreras replaced Miguel Montero an inning earlier after the catcher twisted his right knee.
The Cubs had three hits and committed several mental and defensive miscues.
Chicago entered the series holding a 12 1/2-game lead over second-place St. Louis in the NL Central. But the Cardinals, who won 100 games last season before falling to the Cubs in the playoffs, showed their mettle.
Wacha was the latest to step up, setting down the first nine batters before giving up two walks in the fourth and then Anthony Rizzo’s opposite-field single against the shift with two out.
But the Cubs didn’t score thanks to Chris Coghlan getting doubled off first base on a fly to left.
The Cardinals made Arrieta work with long at-bats before taking advantage of Chicago’s shoddy defense.
A single and two walks loaded the bases in the fifth with one out when Stephen Picotty hit a grounder to third. But second baseman Ben Zobrist’s relay throw to first was a one-hopper, first baseman Anthony Rizzo couldn’t dig it out for the double play, and two runs scored on the error.
Justin Grimm replaced Arrieta and was charged with four runs while getting one out in a nightmare sixth for Chicago.
Montero limped off after an awkward twist as he failed to tag Brandon Moss before Contreras hit his second big league homer.
Cardinals: RHP Seth Maness (elbow) allowed a walk and got two outs in his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list Sunday,
Cubs: With CF Dexter Fowler (hamstring) on the disabled list, manager Joe Maddon has settled in on Coghlan batting leadoff against right-handers and Zobrist vs. lefties.
MOLINA & THE CUBS
Cardinals C Yadier Molina could be starting with an all-Cubs infield at the All-Star Game. The latest NL voting released Wednesday had Molina with a slight lead over San Francisco’s Buster Posey. The Cubs’ Rizzo, Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell continued to lead at their infield positions.
Cardinals: After an off day, RHP Carlos Martinez (7-5, 3.17 ERA) looks to stay unbeaten in June in the opener of a three-game series at Seattle.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (9-3, 2.06 ERA) aims to win his sixth straight start Thursday night as Chicago begins a season-high 11-game trip in Miami. Struggling LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-2, 5.22) starts for the Marlins.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.