ST LOUIS -- The Cardinals got the jump on the Cubs early and never relented in a 10-3 victory on Sunday.
How it happened: In line to win their first series of the season, the Cubs instead dropped their second consecutive game to the Cardinals after winning the opener. Paul Maholm was roughed up, giving up six runs on six hits in four innings for the second consecutive start. The Cubs got little from their offense as four regulars got the day off leading into Monday’s off day.
What it means: Every time the conversation starts to turn to the Cubs’ solid starting pitching, the back end of the rotation adds some perspective. Ryan Dempster has a 1.88 ERA while Matt Garza has a 1.23 mark. Then it gets to Jeff Samardzija, who is at 3.95, while Chris Volstad is at 4.91. Then comes Maholm’s 13.50 mark.
Outside the box: Steve Clevenger isn’t about to unseat Geovany Soto as the starting catcher just yet, but he keeps getting unique chances to play. Typically backup catchers are kept on the bench in case the starter goes down, but Clevenger has already been used as a late-inning pinch hitter and on Sunday he got a chance to play first base in the seventh inning.
Off beat: Marlon Byrd reached base twice Sunday by errors on the Cardinals’ infield. That means his hit total on the season matches the times he reached base in the game by miscue. Byrd, who can use all the hits he can get right now, was first awarded a single on his third-inning roller to third base. But a few innings later the call was reviewed and changed to an error on Daniel Descalso.
Up next: After an off day on Monday, Cubs right-hander Dempster (0-1, 1.88 ERA) will pitch in the opener of a three-game road series against the Marlins. Florida will counter with right-hander Josh Johnson (0-2, 8.38) in the 6:10 p.m. CST start from the new Marlins Park.