8/9 Cubs 3, Cardinals 0
Chris Rusin lasted long enough to get the win and make a little history. Junior Lake hit an RBI single and scored on Anthony Rizzo’s two-run single, all in the seventh, to back Rusin and lift the Cubs to a 3-0 victory Friday night over the Cardinals for their third win in the last 12 games. Rusin combined with four other pitchers, including Kevin Gregg, who picked up his 24th save, for the shutout.
It’s the first time the Cubs have shutout the Cardinals in St. Louis since the late Geremi Gonzalez threw a complete game shutout on June 23, 1997, beating Fernando Valenzuela. The Cubs have played 127 games since that date at various versions of Busch Stadium.
Promoted from Triple-A Iowa to fill Matt Garza’s spot in the rotation after the right-hander was traded, Rusin also threw seven scoreless innings against the Giants on July 27 and called that start a better one “because I went one more inning scoreless.” But he didn’t get a decision that day. Rusin is the first Cubs left-hander to throw at least six scoreless innings in St. Louis since Ken Holtzman totaled seven on Sept. 19, 1979.
“With him, when he throws strikes, he’s able to get back in the count with a strike and throws a quality pitch to get back in the count,” manager Dale Sveum said. “His ball can move so much, he gets some swings and misses at balls quite a way out of the zone. He makes the ball move and keeps the ball down. He did a great job again.”
This was the first time Rusin had ever faced the Cardinals, who lead the Majors with a .335 batting average with runners in scoring position. The lefty kept them in check, scattering seven hits over six scoreless innings.
“I was able to get ahead in the count with first-pitch strikes, and that helped me out and I didn’t get beat by the heart of the lineup,” Rusin said. “I limited them to a couple singles and no home runs. I got away with one with [Allen] Craig [in the fifth] — the wind was blowing in or something [because] I don’t know how it didn’t go out. I got away with that one and didn’t make any more big mistakes.”
The Cubs are on the other end of the stats chart with runners in scoring position, ranking last in the Majors at .224, which includes a 1-for-12 effort Thursday against the Phillies.
Welington Castillo walked to lead off the seventh, and moved up on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice, which was first ruled an infield hit by first-base umpire Larry Vanover. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny argued that Lynn had tagged Castro as he ran down the line, and after the umpires met, they reversed the call. Darwin Barney then walked, and one out later, Lake delivered a RBI single. Cole Gillespie was hit by a pitch to load the bases and chase Lynn. Rizzo, who is batting .197 against lefties, greeted southpaw Randy Choate with his single to center to open a 3-0 lead.
“That was huge — off a lefty and in a big situation,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, that transpires into a lot more.”
Clutch hits have been missing from the Cubs’ repertoire, including Rizzo.
“It was nice, especially against Randy Choate, [because] he’s tough on lefties,” Rizzo said. “I tried to see the ball as long as possible off him. Hit it where they’re not, honestly. I just put the ball in play and hit it where they’re not.”
– Carrie Muskat