Wainwright wins 19th as Cardinals down Cubs
Cubs' Jackson ends season with miserable outing
Adam Wainwright's final tuneup before the National League Division Series couldn't have gone much better.
The St. Louis ace worked 5 1/3 shutout innings on Saturday and tied Washington's Jordan Zimmerman for the league lead in wins as the Cardinals dumped the Chicago Cubs 6-2 at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (19-9) allowed just two hits and a walk, striking out five in a 72-pitch outing. He left after retiring Starlin Castro on a flyout to start the sixth, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,520.
"Really, I just wanted something to keep me sharp," Wainwright said. "We're still fighting for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage, so we wanted to win the game. It was good to get out there and get some good work in."
St. Louis (95-66) won for the seventh time in eight games and moved a half-game ahead of Atlanta for overall home-field advantage in the NL playoffs. The Braves played Saturday night at home against Philadelphia.
Manager Mike Matheny is striking a balancing act between going all-out to win and letting the everyday players determine their best course of action to be ready for the postseason.
"It's going to be about what those guys feel is best for them," he said. "If someone wants a couple of at-bats or an extra day (off), it's their call. But no matter who we put out there, the standard's the same. We're playing to win."
And the Cardinals did that with little problem as they jumped all over Edwin Jackson (8-18). In a fitting farewell to a miserable first season with Chicago (66-95), he gave up eight hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings before leaving with mild right lat discomfort.
Jackson said he felt the injury while warming up in the bullpen before the game.
"I tried to work through it, like you work through a lot of stuff," he said. "It wasn't getting any better. It kept me from finishing pitches. It's kind of a (bad) end to the season, but I've got three more years to look forward to here."
Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million free-agent deal with the Cubs in the offseason and was expected to lend stability to the rotation. But the veteran right-hander finished with a 4.98 ERA and gave up a staggering 256 base runners in 175 1/3 innings.
"I've just got to do what I know how to do," Jackson said when asked about 2014. "This year started out shaky and ended shaky. I just have to pitch up to my potential. I know what I'm capable of doing."
Matt Holliday gave the Cardinals a 2-0 first-inning lead with his 22nd homer, a two-run blast over the wall in right-center field with Jon Jay aboard. It lifted Holliday to a .300 batting average for the season.
St. Louis blew the game open with four runs in the third. Yadier Molina laced a two-run double to right center, scoring pinch-runner Shane Robinson and Matt Adams. Pete Kozma ripped a ground-rule double to left center for a 5-0 lead and Wainwright capped the scoring with an RBI single off the glove of third baseman Donnie Murphy.
It was Wainwright's 15th hit of the year, allowing him to break a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for second among NL pitchers.
"I wanted to keep my average above .200 and break the tie with Kershaw," Wainwright joked when asked about his goals for the game.
The Cardinals, who rested regulars Carlos Beltran and David Freese in their first game after clinching the NL Central title on Friday night, pulled most of their other everyday starters by the middle innings.
Chicago scored its first runs of the series in the ninth on Anthony Rizzo's 23rd homer of the year and Donnie Murphy's ground-rule RBI double. Seth Maness retired Darwin Barney on a double play ball to garner his first big-league save.
NOTES: St. Louis will start RHP Jake Westbrook in Sunday's regular-season finale and follow with RHP Joe Kelly, a candidate to start in the NL Division Series. Westbrook, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 6, is unlikely to return to the team next year. ... Chicago starters Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood are the first Cubs teammates to reach 200 innings in the same year since Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly did it for the 2008 NL Central champions. Samardzija will start Sunday's season finale. ... Beltran (right wrist) sat out Saturday's game and was replaced by Adron Chambers, who made his first start of the season. Beltran is expected to play in the NLDS.
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