Jon Lester struggles as Cubs fall to Cardinals in opener
CHICAGO — Same ol’ Cubbies. Same old Cardinals, too.
At least for one game.
Adam Wainwright threw six sharp innings — outpitching marquee free agent addition Jon Lester — and St. Louis handed new Chicago manager Joe Maddon a 3-0 loss Sunday night in the major league opener.
Jason Heyward had three hits in his St. Louis debut and Matt Holliday drove in two runs for the NL Central champions. Throw in Matt Carpenter’s two hits at new-look Wrigley Field, and the top third of the Cardinals’ lineup went 7 for 14 with three RBIs.
Playing their most anticipated opener in years, the Cubs went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Lester was pulled with one out in the fifth inning on a chilly evening. The ace lefthander, who got a $155 million, six-year contract from the Cubs during free agency, allowed three runs and eight hits in his fifth straight Opening Day start.
The addition of Lester and Maddon ramped up the expectations for Chicago after five straight losing seasons. But it was more of the same in their first game.
The biggest difference for the home team was a giant videoboard in left field, part of a major renovation for the iconic neighborhood ballpark. The closed bleachers were covered by pictures of Hall of Fame slugger Ernie Banks, who played for Chicago for 19 seasons and died in January at age 83.
The Cubs honored Banks with a pregame moment of silence, and his sons Jerry and Joey Banks each threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
The club also extended its condolences to the Cardinals for Oscar Taveras, an outfield prospect who died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic last October.
Heyward got the majors’ first hit of the year when he doubled and scored on Holliday’s single in the first. Holliday had another RBI single in the fifth.
It was more than enough for Wainwright, who was slowed by an abdominal injury in spring training, but looked just fine in his fourth Opening Day start. The 6-foot-7-inch righthander made the most of umpire Mike Winters’s wide strike zone, punching out six with no walks.
He gave up all five Cubs hits.
Carlos Martinez, who won the fifth starter job in training camp, then worked the seventh for St. Louis. Jordan Walden got three outs before Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side for the save.
The shutout was sure to have some Cubs fans clamoring for Kris Bryant, the power-hitting prospect who recently was sent to the minors for more seasoning.