October 10, 2015

Pham-bam, thank you ma'am, Cards rookies go all clutch on Cubbies

ST. LOUIS--BUSCH STADIUM--The Chicago Cubs came to Busch Stadium on a high note after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card Wednesday, a roster full of highly talented rookies and young players ready to take down the St. Louis Cardinals in game one of the NLDS.

But it was the Cardinals' youngsters that went all clutch, helping starter John Lackey (1-0) and bullpen shut out the Cubs, 4-0, in front 47,830.

Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-4, cracking a ground rule double into the right field corner off of Cubs' starter Jon Lester (0-1), then scoring the first St. Louis run when Matt Holiday lazered a single into center field. Piscotty slid home safely on a relatively close play. The risk paid off, but the game held the 1-0 score for seven more tension-filled innings until the Redbirds' rookies, Tommy Pham and Piscotty, launched towering home runs into the left field seats.

Prior to the homers, Lackey held the Cubs scoreless for seven and a third innings, allowing only two hits, the first of which didn't come until the sixth inning. Lackey walked a couple and struck out five.

Cardinals' manager, Mike Matheny, went to the bullpen in the eighth, calling on Kevin Siegrist to mop up a couple outs for Lackey, who was still pitching strong at the time. Siegrist struck out the balance of the side, notching a hold.

It was that eighth inning, however, that sent the Busch Stadium crowd wild, save a few clad in blue jerseys. Pham pinch-hit for Siegrist, his first career post-season at bat, crushing a Jon Lester fast ball on a 3-1 count over the left field wall, a solo bomb that gave the Cardinals a much-desired insurance run.

But the Cardinals rookie core weren't done yet. After Lester walked Matt Carpenter on five pitches, Cubs' manager, Joe Maddon, brought in Pedro Strop. A passed ball sent Carpenter scurrying to second base, but his advancement didn't make much difference to Piscotty, who used his at-bat to complete a Redbird rookie one-two punch, launching a Strop offering over the left field wall for a two-run homer, earning Piscotty a couple RBI and his second crossing of the plate, along with a Cardinals' 4-0 lead which they would not relinquish.

Matheny went to his closer though it was a non-save situation, Trevor Rosenthal, who threw strikeout-walk-strikeout-single-strikeout to close the game.

Game two plays at Busch Stadium Saturday night with Kyle Hendricks starting for Chicago and Jaime Garcia taking the mound for St. Louis.

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