Jake Arrieta told Starlin Castro he would pick him up after the shortstop missed a run-scoring scoring opportunity, and he did. And Castro returned the favor, delivering a clutch hit to give Arrieta and the Cubs their first win of 2015 on Wednesday.
Castro hit an RBI single and scored on Miguel Montero's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to back Arrieta and lift the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, giving new manager Joe Maddon his first "W."
Lance Lynn retired the first 10 batters he faced, and held the Cubs to one hit over the first six innings. But the Cardinals' right-hander plunked Anthony Rizzo to open the seventh, then served up Castro's RBI single, which was all Arrieta and the Chicago bullpen needed.
"You have to play good teams if you think you're going to win, and St. Louis is definitely a good team," Montero said. "You have to beat them to keep your hopes to make the playoffs. We did today, but we still have a long way to go."
Arrieta, who missed the first month last season because of tightness in his right shoulder, fanned seven over seven innings for the win.
"I think you just saw two very good pitchers throwing today, not making too many mistakes," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "And when there were, the opposition was able to capitalize."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Off target: After rolling through six one-hit innings, Lynn compounded the seventh with a pair of errant deliveries. He opened the inning by hitting Rizzo with a 1-0 fastball and then gave Rizzo another 90 feet by bouncing a pickoff throw into the Cardinals' bullpen. The miscues set up the Cubs' two-run inning and left Lynn to shoulder a loss in a game in which he allowed only two hits.
"When it's all said and done, it's a loss," said Lynn, now 12-2 in April since 2012. "I have to pitch better. A hit batter, an error and a bad pitch cost me the game." More >
Lonely runners: On Opening Night, the Cubs were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and that trend continued early Wednesday. Lynn retired the first 10 batters he faced before Jorge Soler tripled with one out in the fourth. Rizzo walked, but Lynn struck out Castro and got Chris Coghlan to fly out to center to end the threat. Castro, mad at himself for not coming through, finally did in the seventh when he smacked the key single.
"I've told guys it takes one at-bat to have a great night, and that's what he did," Maddon said of Castro's at-bat in the seventh. More >
QUOTABLE "[Postgame beer shower] is for the end of the year. That's when you actually get somewhere, and that's the right time to do it. Hector [Rondon] gave me the ball at the end of the game and that was very sweet of him, but I want us to expect to do this a lot more often." -- Maddon, on getting his first win with the Cubs. The players did not douse him with beer or champagne postgame.
"I think you just expect that you can get about anything at this time of the year in this part of the country and even back home. We'll go through it and realize that better days are ahead. But right now, we need to play." -- Matheny, on the Cardinals playing two games during a six-day stretch.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Arrieta has held the Cardinals to three earned runs over 36 1/3 innings in six career starts. Wednesday marked the ninth time in his career he has shut out an opponent over at least seven innings. More >
Rondon picked up the save, his first of the season and the right-hander now has converted 16 save opportunities in a row, dating to Aug. 12 last year.
REPLAY REVIEW Maddon issued his first challenge of the season in the eighth when he asked umpires to review a call at first base. The umpires called Matt Szczur out after a throw from Matt Carpenter to Matt Adams. After a 45-second review, the call was confirmed.
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT RISP issues: The Cardinals are still waiting for timely production from middle-of-the-order hitters Jhonny Peralta and Adams. In the two-game series, Peralta and Adams combined to go 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base. Adams remains hitless on the season, with three strikeouts and two walks in eight plate appearances.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: After an off-day in Cincinnati, the Cardinals will resume their season-opening road trip with a three-game set against the Reds beginning on Friday. Right-hander John Lackey will get the start against Cincinnati's Jason Marquis. The Cardinals went 12-7 against the Reds last season, with a 5-5 record at Great American Ball Park. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.
Cubs: After an off-day Thursday to travel to Denver, the Cubs open a three-game series against the Rockies on Friday. Wood is slated to begin the series in the Rockies' home opener, and will be followed by Jason Hammel on Saturday and Kyle Hendricks on Sunday. First pitch for Friday's game is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT.