Silva allows just two hits to stay perfect as Cubs blank Cardinals

CHICAGO -- Carlos Silva has gone from simply trying to make the Cubs' rotation in spring training to anchoring it for the first two months of the season.

The veteran right-hander struck out a career-high 11 during seven dominant innings to remain unbeaten as the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 Saturday.

Silva (7-0) allowed just two hits and walked none. Matt Holliday was the only Cardinals' batter to reach base against Silva with a single in the second and a double in the seventh.

"[Silva] has worked hard. He came to camp on a mission. He was one of the seven guys we ran out there to see who would start. Clearly he was one of our best starters in spring training and he solidified that and more, here early in the season," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

Silva became the first Cubs starter to begin a season 7-0 since Ken Holtzman went 9-0 in 1967.

Acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade for outfielder Milton Bradley, Silva is the pitcher to start his Cubs career at 7-0 since Jim Weaver won his first seven decisions in 1934. The last full-time starter to open with seven wins for the Cubs was King Cole in 1910.

Silva was 5-18 in two seasons with the Mariners.

"I was surprise the way I pitched in those two years in Seattle," Silva said. "It is really fun. It's not only good for me, but for the team. It's unbelievable, I didn't hear that for two years, 'Carlos is pitching tomorrow, we're going to win. It's made me feel so good. It's gives me a little extra energy to go out [and pitch]."

Three relievers finished off the combined four-hitter. The Cardinals were held to one run or less for the eighth time this month and 13th time this season, and they've been shut out five times.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't want to focus on his team's offensive woes, instead giving credit to Silva.

"There isn't anything new about the offense so you can quit asking me for comments on the offense. The guy pitched very well. He's 7-0. If you're going to ask about the offense you're going to have to do it without me because I've given you everything and it's still not good enough. You ask the same questions. The point is he pitched well. I give him credit. That's what I do," La Russa said.

Silva struck out the side in the third. When got Felipe Lopez looking to end the inning, it was Silva's seventh strikeout of the game, surpassing his previous high of six.

"It's pretty easy to be back there when he can throw a pitch exactly where you want it. His game seems like you don't have to do anything, you just kind of steer the reins in one direction or another and let the big boy do what he does best. He was really, really, good today," catcher Koyie Hill said.

Cardinals starter Adam Ottavino (0-1) gave up four runs on five hits and six walks in major league debut. He took the spot of Kyle Lohse who was placed on the disabled list on Thursday.

"I'd give him a passing mark. He had some control issues. He'd miss and he'd come back and make a pitch so I'd definitely give him a passing mark for a very tough assignment," La Russa said.

Mike Fontenot, playing for the injured Aramis Ramirez, hit a pair of triples.

The Cubs took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Alfonso Soriano walked, stole second and scored on Marlon Byrd's single. Fontenot hit an RBI triple and scored on Starlin Castro's single.

Silva drew a walk in the sixth that set up a bases-loaded walk to Kosuke Fukudome. In the eighth, Fukudome hit a sacrifice fly.

Game notes
Ottavino was 4-3 with a 4.17 ERA at Triple-A Memphis. Lohse had surgery on his right forearm in Los Angeles on Friday.