Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsAfter singling and advancing to second on a sac fly, Javier Baez slides in with the Cubs' fifth run after an Anthony Rizzo base hit in Thursday's second inning.

A four-run second, without the benefit of a home run, propelled the Cubs past the Cardinals and fueled hopes for more consistency ahead.

Lester, Heyward lead Cubs past Cardinals 8-5

April, 19, 2018
Apr 19
5:07
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Jon Lester was dominant through six innings of two-hit ball in his 100th start as Cub, Jason Heyward hit a two-run homer and Chicago defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-5 on Thursday.

Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber each had two RBI as Chicago took a 6-1 lead after two innings. Every Cubs starter had a hit, including three by Anthony Rizzo and two each by Heyward, Schwarber and Javier Baez.

Lester (2-0) didn't allow a hit until Jedd Gyorko lined a single to left with one out in the fifth. The left-hander gave a first-inning unearned run, struck out seven and walked one.

Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect ninth to complete a five-hitter and remain perfect in three save chances.

Ten of Chicago's first 16 batters reached against Luke Weaver (2-1), who allowed six runs and nine hits in four innings. He had yielded only four runs over 17 1/3 innings in three previous starts.

A day after a game was postponed because of rain and temperatures just above freezing, it was 47 when the game began.


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CHICAGO -- The game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs on Wednesday was called off because of wintry weather, the 25th postponement in the first three weeks of the major league season.

The total matched 2007 for the most weather-related postponements through April since Major League Baseball started keeping records in 1986. There were 26 postponements through April in 2007, but one was caused by the death of St. Louis pitcher Josh Hancock.

With temperatures in the mid-30s and rain and snow in the forecast, the game was called about 4 1/2 hours before the scheduled first pitch and rescheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Chicago's Jon Lester and St. Louis' Luke Weaver had their starts moved back a day.

The postponement was the fourth on the Cubs' first homestand, and third in four days. Sunday's series finale against Atlanta was rescheduled for May 14 because of rain and Monday's game against the Cardinals is to be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 21.

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CHICAGO -- The game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs on Wednesday was called off because of wintry weather, making it the 25th postponement in the first three weeks of the major league season.

The total matched 2007 for the most weather-related postponements through April since Major League Baseball started keeping records in 1986. There were 26 postponements through April in 2007; one was in response to the death of St. Louis pitcher Josh Hancock.

With temperatures in the mid-30s and rain and snow in the forecast, Wednesday's game was called about 4½ hours before the scheduled first pitch and rescheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Chicago's Jon Lester and St. Louis' Luke Weaver had their starts moved back a day.

The postponement was the fourth on the Cubs' first homestand, and third in four days. Sunday's series finale against Atlanta was rescheduled for May 14 because of rain and Monday's game against the Cardinals is to be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 21.


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CHICAGO -- Before Tuesday night's game, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer was clear about what has been the most disappointing aspect in an uneven start for the National League Central division favorites.

"When it comes to the pitching part of it," he said. "I think that's where it's been difficult to get into a rhythm. Pitchers with good control and good command have struggled to throw strikes."

As if on cue, Tyler Chatwood backed up those comments with a rare performance against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-3 loss: 4.2 innings pitched, seven strikeouts and seven walks. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, only two pitchers compiled at least seven and seven in less than five innings pitched last year. Before that, it hadn't happened since 2008. It meant throwing a lot of pitches -- 97 -- in a short outing, not exactly what fielders want when the temperature is 35 degrees at first pitch.

"I just have to be better with my command," Chatwood said after the loss. "That's the thing that's hurt me so far. It was cold, but I could grip the ball.

"Our guys have to get back in there to hit and I'm leaving them standing there in the cold for a while. ... That's not a good recipe for success right there I don't think."

Chatwood isn't the only disappointment in the starting staff so far, as his record dropped to 0-3 with his new team, despite giving up just one hit. The Cubs' vaunted rotation -- at least on paper -- ranks near the bottom of the league after averaging just five innings per start through their first 15 games.

That's just one-third of an inning more than the worst team in that category, the Tampa Bay Rays.

"It's going to happen," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said about longer outings. "I'm fully confident it's going to happen. The starters are really good. There is a lot to look forward to with the starters."

The Cubs had a slow beginning to last season on the mound, eventually righting the ship in the second half -- and that includes their starting staff. But last year, they had the championship hangover to get over; this year, it's just cold weather and some postponements. But every team has dealt with the same conditions, some thriving better than others.

The Cubs have limped out of the gate at 7-8 and can partly blame the uneven play on a rotation that boasts three former all-stars in Jon Lester


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CHICAGO -- Adam Wainwright outpitched Tyler Chatwood in frigid conditions at Wrigley Field, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

The gametime temperature was 35 degrees, and a 10 mph wind made it feel like 29. There were heaters on in each dugout, and the announced crowd of 35,103 bundled up in winter coats, hats and blankets.

Matt Carpenter had two hits and three RBI for St. Louis in the first meeting of the season between the longtime rivals. The Cardinals went 5-14 against the NL Central champion Cubs last year, including just one win in nine games at Wrigley.

Each starting pitcher struggled with control, but Wainwright (1-2) deftly navigated his way through five effective innings. The 6-foot-7 right-hander allowed an unearned run and four hits, struck out five and walked four while improving to 11-2 in 24 career games at Chicago's iconic neighborhood ballpark.

Chatwood (0-3) issued seven walks in 4 2/3 innings, one off his career high. He struck out seven and yielded two runs and one hit.

Javier Baez hit a two-run homer off Greg Holland in the eighth, but Chicago lost for the third time in four games. The Cubs hadn't played since Saturday after their series finale against Atlanta and Game 1 against St. Louis were postponed due to lousy weather.


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CHICAGO -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is advocating for a shorter season, even if that means a smaller paycheck for players.

"I think we play too much baseball," Rizzo said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on ESPN 1000. "Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it's both, but in the long run it will make everything better."

Rizzo believes a transition period with guaranteed contracts could be worked out, perhaps "grandfathering" them into a new system with new contracts reflecting fewer games played.

"Once you start taking money from guys, that's where it's going to be a little more dicey," he said.

The Cubs postponed back-to-back games Sunday and Monday and are scheduled to take on the St. Louis Cardinals in freezing temperatures Tuesday night. Rizzo has been on the disabled list with back tightness but is scheduled to play Tuesday.

The conditions at Wrigley Field, however, won't be ideal for someone coming off a back ailment.

"I think playing in the cold sucks," said Rizzo, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday. "I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don't think about playing in 20 degrees."

Even if the season isn't shortened, Rizzo sees no reason it has to start so early.

"In a perfect world, we'd start the season later and play a few scheduled doubleheaders going into an off day," he said. "As a fan you're going to a baseball game in April, and it's raining, snowing and [with] freezing rain. Is it really that much fun? That's my question."

Rizzo conceded that nothing is likely to change, and players will just have to deal with the winter-like conditions. The Cubs' last game, on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves


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CHICAGO -- The series opener between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals has been postponed because of poor weather.

With light snow falling and the temperature around 30 degrees, Monday night's game was postponed about six hours before the scheduled first pitch. It will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on July 21.

The Cubs are pushing their rotation back a second day with Tyler Chatwood -- originally scheduled to pitch Sunday against Atlanta -- starting Tuesday and Jon Lester going Wednesday. St. Louis' Adam Wainwright will have his start moved back a day to Tuesday. But the Cardinals will go with Luke Weaver instead of Michael Wacha on Wednesday.

The postponement was the third on the Cubs' first homestand of the season -- and second in as many days. Sunday's series finale against Atlanta got pushed back to May 14 because of rain.

There were 21 postponements in the majors through Sunday.

The Cubs were hoping to get Anthony Rizzo (lower back tightness) back from the 10-day disabled list on Monday. But the postponement delayed the three-time All-Star's return.


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Chicago Cubs manager John Maddon said he expected first baseman Anthony Rizzo to return to the lineup Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, but Mother Nature had a different plan.

The Cubs ended up postponing Monday's game "due to the forecast for inclement weather throughout the day and wind chills in the 20s this evening." It will be made up as part of a split doubleheader July 21. 

Rizzo was put on the disabled list last week with a stiff lower back that he blamed in part on a hotel room bed in Cincinnati.

Maddon thinks Rizzo looks ready when the team gets back on the field.

"I watched him work out in the gym over there, and he looks fine," Maddon said. "So I try to trust the guys. I do trust the guys. I ask them questions. When the guys are honest with you, it makes the decision-making so much easier. Mind reading is really difficult."

To make room on the roster, the Cubs optioned infielder Efren Navarro to Triple-A Iowa Sunday.


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Matt Marton/AP PhotoChicago Cubs' Javier Baez (9) scores during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Chicago

The Cubs' up-and-coming star rubs some the wrong way and has his flaws, but the good outweighs the bad.

The Los Angeles Angels' game against the Royals, in which Japanese star Shohei Ohtani was scheduled to pitch in Kansas City, was the latest to be postponed Sunday because of cold temperatures.

The game will be made up on June 25 in Kansas City.

"Just the simple fact that I was going to be pitching in cold weather, that was a little worrisome for me,'' Ohtani said through an interpreter. "Also, I was worried my fingertips might lose the feel for the ball. That was one of the things I was worried [about].''

After a day off Monday, Ohtani will start Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox as the Angels open a six-game homestand in Anaheim.

The Angels-Royals game was the sixth game postponed Sunday by weather. The last time six MLB games were postponed was Sept. 12, 2008.

Monday's Red Sox game against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston also was postponed, it was announced Sunday, with the forecast calling for long periods of rain. This is the first time a Red Sox Patriots' Day game -- a traditional 11 a.m. start on the same day as the Boston Marathon -- has been postponed since 1984. That game has been rescheduled for May 17.


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There's no reason to panic just yet, but there are some troubling early trends for a 7-7 Cubs team trying to get back to the World Series.
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsJavier Baez's bases-clearing double was the biggest of the three Cubs hits in Saturday's bizarre eighth inning.

On a day veritably unfit for baseball at Wrigley, the Cubs scored nine two-out runs, on just three hits, in an eighth nobody there will soon forget.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Kris Bryant
BA HR RBI R
.328 2 10 10
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Baez 5
RBIJ. Baez 16
RJ. Baez 14
OPSK. Bryant 1.026
WJ. Lester 2
ERAJ. Lester 3.10
SOJ. Lester 18