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STL@CHC: Rizzo drills a solo shot to right field

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright came to Wrigley Field as the "hottest pitcher in the league," riding a 25-inning scoreless streak. He was unbeaten in his career at Wrigley and looking for his Major League-leading sixth win of the year on Friday.

Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs denied him on all counts.

Rizzo hit a solo homer and a two-run single and Welington Castillo added a two-run double to back Travis Wood and power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals.

"You've just got to give some credit to the Cubs hitters today," Wainwright said. "They put some tough at-bats on us and Wood threw a good enough game to win the game."

Wainwright, who was 6-0 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field before Friday, had faced the Cubs in St. Louis on April 12 and picked up the win despite serving up seven hits.

"He knows hitters," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of the veteran right-hander before the game. "This is a championship-type pitcher. Not a whole lot riles him. Hopefully we can put together good at-bats and get him to get the ball up in the zone and do the best we can."

The Cubs did just that. Wainwright entered the game with a National League-best 25 scoreless-inning streak, one shy of his personal high, but Chicago ended that in the first. Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and Luis Valbuena doubled, with both scoring on Rizzo's single to right.

The Cardinals tied the game in the second on Matt Carpenter's RBI single and Jhonny Peralta's RBI double, but with one out in the Cubs' third, they loaded the bases and took a 3-2 lead on a run-scoring groundout by Ryan Sweeney. Castillo followed with a two-run double for a 5-2 cushion.

It was very un-Wainwright-like.

"Early two runs and then that's it, a double-play ball [to end the first] and I'm thinking in my brain, 'That's all they're getting,'" Wainwright said. "Next inning, second and third, no outs, get out of that, we score two runs, and I'm thinking, 'Back in the game.' And to go out and give up three runs is very unlike me, and to just hand the game back over is something I normally don't do a whole lot of."

Yadier Molina doubled with one out in the Cardinals' fourth, and he scored one out later on Starlin Castro's throwing error.

Rizzo lead off the fifth with his fifth home run, and his second in as many games. The first baseman had homered and walked four times on Wednesday against the Reds, and he was 2-for-3 on Friday. He's now batting .404 (19-for-47) at Wrigley this year, and the key has been to keep things simple.

"He's made a very conscious effort of trying to control the strike zone," Renteria said of Rizzo, who batted .233 last season. "With two strikes especially, he's been really battling. He's just trying to not do too much. He choked up and just tried to put the barrel on the ball -- he's a very strong man. If he puts the barrel on the ball with a decent swing, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Said Rizzo: "[Wainwright's] stuff is so good, if you try to do anything more, he'll eat you alive. Fortunately for us, we got to him."

Rizzo, who was the one who called Wainwright the hottest pitcher in the NL, complimented hitting coach Bill Mueller with the improved approach.

"Bill's done it, he did it for a long time," Rizzo said of Mueller. "He knows how to calm myself down personally and other guys. It's not just mechanical, but he deals with the mental side as well."

"That's what happens when you gain experience," Renteria said. "He's been really conscious about changing his approach."

Wood notched his fourth quality start, giving up two earned runs over seven innings. Justin Grimm walked Carpenter to open the eighth and served up a two-run homer to Peralta. One batter later, Sweeney caught Allen Craig's fly ball on the warning track in center, but he had to leave the game with a sore right hamstring.

The nicest aspect of the game for the Cubs may have come in the ninth as Hector Rondon, a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, pitched a scoreless inning for his second save and the Cubs' first at home in three opportunities. The Cubs don't have a designated closer; Rondon has had the most success.

"It was big for me, second time to close the game, second time against these guys," said Rondon, whose other save came April 11 at St. Louis. "The team, we needed the win today."

The Cubs went 9-17 in the first month of the season, and they were eager to turn the calendar.

"Obviously, we're still chipping away at little things that we need to do better," Renteria said. "All in all, we're not quitting, we keep playing. ... We need to continue to go out there and play good baseball."

The Cubs went 7-12 against the Cardinals last season, and now are 2-2 this year. They know how good St. Louis is. They just don't want to hear about it any more.

"With all due respect to that team, they're a great ballclub, but we're a pretty good team, too," Rizzo said. "It's just about scoring runs when we have the opportunity to." Comments