Cardinals romp past Cubs

News-DemocratApril 12, 2014 

— His team's slumping offense certainly was no laughing matter for St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

But after breaking loose with 13 hits in their 10-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, the Cardinals found it amusing that so much attention has been cast upon their inability to score runs.

Daniel Descalso, particularly, resented the insinuation that the Cardinals were concerned about a .212 team batting average that included three runs or less in six of 10 games.

"What are we, 10 games in, 11 games in?" Descalso said. "We're not even two weeks into April. You can't be talking about guys struggling. We've got too many good players in this room that have put up numbers before to hit the panic button.

"Guys are going to perform. Sometimes it just takes a little while to get going. I don't think there's any tension in here. Guys are going out there playing and some hits aren't falling. Nobody's panicking in here. There's no tension. It's still early."

The Cardinals lifted their average to .226 with a robust attack that included Matt Adams' first home run of the season and two hits apiece by Descalso, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina. The hits by Descalso were his first two of the season.

St. Louis trailed 1-0 following Junior Lake's first-inning homer on Adam Wainwright's opening pitch. But the Cardinals (6-5) used a four-run second and a five-run fourth to overpower the Cubs (4-7).

"We all know we can hit; we're all confident in ourselves that we can hit," said rookie second baseman Kolten Wong, who had a single, an RBI and a stolen base. "Our pitchers have been doing a heck of a job with how they've been pitching so far. It's been frustrating not giving them the run support they deserve."

The Cardinals roughed up Chicago starter Carlos Villanueva, who allowed nine runs (earned) on 10 hits in three-plus innings. From the second through fourth, St. Louis had nine runs and 11 hits.

"It was nice to get some runs, especially for Adam, and let him do his thing," Matheny said. "We took some good at-bats right from the top. Guys were not letting many pitches in the middle of the plate go by without at least a good pass on them."

Wainwright improved to 2-1 and contributed an RBI single in the second. He surrendered four runs (earned) on seven hits in seven innings, walked none and struck out eight.

"Because our offense was so great, I did what we needed me to do --go later into the game and give our bullpen guys some rest. There's going to be plenty of times when our hitters pick up our pitchers throughout the year," said Wainwright, who was more than happy to discuss his RBI single. "Oh, yeah. That was good. Obviously, the turning point in the game."

Adams opened the second with his first home run of the season, a line drive to right against Villanueva measured at 374 feet.

Descalso, Wainwright and Carpenter had consecutive RBI singles with one out in the inning to make it 4-1.

After Chicago got within 4-2 in the fourth, the Cardinals sent 10 men to the plate in their half of the inning and scored five.

Carpenter and Wong had RBI singles, Matt Holliday drove in a run with a fielder's choice and Jon Jay had a two-run single against reliever Chris Rusin that made it 9-2.

Jay, playing center field for Peter Bourjos, and left fielder Holliday also made stellar defensive plays. Jay raced to the warning track to haul down Luis Valbuena's drive in the third, and Holliday took a double away from John Baker with a lunging grab in the seventh.

After Chicago clawed within 9-4 in the sixth on RBI doubles by Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney, the Cardinals answered when Holliday doubled and scored on Molina's infield out.

Matheny hopes Saturday offered a sign of things to come.

"This hitting thing is a hard deal," he said. "They look like they're getting closer. Today was a great representation. I think that's the kind of team we have. We can throw out a huge offensive production just about any time. It's just a matter of when they start clicking. Then it's trying to keep it as long as we can.

"It's frustrating for a team that knows it can put up offensive production, to have this kind of start. Fortunately, we've been able to work into some wins, and a day like today could be the catalyst to get us going from here."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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