ST. LOUIS -- — Dylan Carlson homered and drove in four runs, Jake Woodford pitched 5 2/3 strong innings in his first start of the season, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-3 on Monday night.
Woodford (2-1), who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis prior to the game, struck out six and didn’t allow a walk. Woodford pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth by getting Ian Happ to ground into a double play, which scored Patrick Wisdom for the only run he allowed.
“He did exactly what we’ve asked the guys to do,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Command the baseball, be in the zone, work with a good tempo, have a plan and execute it and he did a great job tonight.”
John Gant pitched the final 2 1/3 innings of relief as the Cardinals ran their winning streak to three games.
It was the second career start and first decision in that role for Woodford, who made his 30th career appearance. The 24-year-old right-hander, who had made 17 appearances in relief this season, was sent down to Memphis on June 28 to build up to be a starter.
“I was able to kind of get back in my routine at Memphis,” Woodford said. “It’s been a little bit since I started, but it kind of came back to me quick. It’s something that I’m familiar doing. I’ve started a lot in the minor leagues, so I had a pretty good idea of how to prepare and how to get ready.”
Three Cubs errors, including two straight by Javier Báez at shortstop, led to four runs for the Cardinals in the fourth. Alec Mills didn’t help his cause by walking Carlson with the bases loaded, and Paul Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a bases-loaded infield single, giving St. Louis a 5-0 lead.
“I thought (Mills) made some really good pitches,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He pitched really well in that inning and it’s kind of a shame and then Javey makes the two errors. I hadn’t seen a game like that feels like in a while.”
Carlson and Goldschmidt hit home runs off Keegan Thompson in the sixth. It was the fourth time this season the Cardinals hit back-to-back homers, but first since April 19.
“So, good things happen when you have plate discipline and you swing the bat at strikes and with two strikes your battle your tail off,” Shildt said.
Carlson’s single scored Harrison Bader to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the third. Carlson’s four RBI tied a career high set earlier this season, on April 7 against Miami.
“That’s the focus of my game, just controlling the strike zone and handling the pitches that are thrown to me,” Carlson said. “So, I just think staying in the strike zone helps me see the ball and leads to some better at bats.”
Only one of the five runs Mills (4-3) allowed was earned as the Cubs lost for the second straight game. He struck out six over four innings, but 28 of his 81 pitches came in the Cardinals’ four-run fourth.
Wisdom led off the seventh with a homer off Andrew Miller.
“It just it happens,” Mills said of the fourth. “I think it was just bad luck that it happened two or three times in the same inning, but it’s OK. We play 162, so we’ll come back tomorrow.”
The Cubs activated RHP Dillon Maples (right triceps strain) from the 10-day injured list and optioned LHP Kyle Ryan to Triple-A Iowa.
The Cardinals optioned OF Lars Nootbaar to Memphis to make room for Woodford.
Cubs: INF Matt Duffy (low back strain) is on track to come off the IL when eligible on Thursday.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness) will throw a live batting practice tomorrow with the hope of sending him on a rehab assignment this weekend. RHP Jack Flaherty (left oblique strain) threw a bullpen. RHP Carlos Martínez (right thumb ligament sprain) had surgery on Friday, likely ending his season.
The Cubs will send RHP Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.51 ERA) against the Cardinals in the second game a of four-game series on Tuesday night. Williams came off the IL from an appendectomy on July 6 and allowed seven runs on 3 2/3 innings to Philadelphia that night. The Cardinals have not announced a starter.
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