<
>

Adam Wainwright throws 6 shutout innings to guide Cardinals past Cubs

CHICAGO -- Adam Wainwright on Opening Night at Wrigley Field was a perfect combination for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wainwright threw six innings of five-hit ball, and St. Louis chased Jon Lester in the fifth inning of a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday in the major league opener.

"A shutout win is a great way to do it," manager Mike Matheny said, pleased with the start for the reigning NL Central champs. "I'm real impressed how Wainer went about his business and set the tone."

Wainwright allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of the first five innings, including three doubles. But he worked out of trouble each time, finishing with six strikeouts and no walks.

The ace right-hander improved to 9-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 20 career games at Chicago's longtime home. He also lowered his ERA to 1.85 for four career starts on Opening Day.

"Tonight I was able to make good pitches when I needed to. Hopefully next time I keep them off base," Wainwright said.

Jason Heyward had three hits in his St. Louis debut, and Matt Holliday drove in two runs. Throw in Matt Carpenter's two hits, and the top third of the Cardinals' lineup went 7 for 14 with three RBIs.

"Selfishly, I like the idea of hitting between those two," Heyward said. "Holly can do damage and Carp sees so many pitches and has good (at-bats). I'm gonna be kind of spoiled hitting there."

Playing their most anticipated opener in years, the Cubs went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Lester, who got a $155 million, six-year contract during free agency, allowed three runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his fifth straight Opening Day start.

"Just wasn't real sharp," Lester said. "Ball was flat."

The addition of Lester to go along with Joe Maddon in the dugout increased the expectations for Chicago after five straight losing seasons. But it was more of the same in their first game.

The biggest difference for the home team was a giant videoboard in left field, part of a major renovation for the iconic neighborhood ballpark. The closed bleachers were covered by pictures of Hall of Fame slugger Ernie Banks, who played for Chicago for 19 seasons and died in January at age 83.

The Cubs honored Banks with a pregame moment of silence, and his sons Jerry and Joey Banks each threw out a ceremonial first pitch. The club also extended its condolences to the Cardinals for Oscar Taveras, an outfield prospect who died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic last October.

"The ballpark was absolutely electric," Maddon said. "The pregame was wonderful. Everything was great. We just have to come through with a couple knocks now and then, but we will. I thought it was a really, really -- for lack of a better term -- a really good night."

Heyward got the majors' first hit of the season when he doubled and scored on Holliday's single in the first. Holliday had another RBI single in the fifth.

It was more than enough for Wainwright, who was slowed by an abdominal injury early in spring training. Carlos Martinez, who won the fifth starter job in training camp, followed with a scoreless seventh and Jordan Walden got three outs before Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side for the save.

GREAT ESCAPES

Matheny praised Wainwright for his ability to wiggle out of trouble.

"He keeps making pitches," said Matheny, a former major league catcher. "He's fun to watch. There's just special guys like that, when they get in tough situations, big games they're able to make the big pitch when they need to."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (shoulder inflammation) is expected to begin a throwing program in the next week or so, and general manager John Mozeliak said OF Tommy Pham (strained left quad) is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday. Garcia was competing for the fifth starter job before the injury. "I would say in the next week to two weeks we'll have a better idea of perhaps expected return or perhaps what a rehab assignment might look like," Mozeliak said. "But I would say it's still about 10 to 14 days away before we make that decision."

Cubs: OF Chris Denorfia (mild left hamstring strain), RHP Jacob Turner (right shoulder inflammation), RHP Dallas Beeler (right shoulder inflammation) and LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (mild left groin strain) were placed on the disabled list before the game. Each of the DL stints is retroactive to March 27.

UP NEXT

Following a day off on Monday, Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta gets the ball on Tuesday against Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn. Arrieta went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 25 starts last year, and Lynn has won at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons.