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Wacha pitches 7 innings, drives in 2 runs in win for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS - When it comes to being a hitter, St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha would rather talk about his pitching.

Wacha threw seven innings and drove in two runs with a single, helping the Cardinals to a 5-3 victory Thursday over the Chicago Cubs.

The 6-foot-6 Wacha (3-3) had lost his last three decisions since an April 13 win over the Cubs. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed seven hits, including a homer, but did not walk a batter. He struck out five.

"I was able to pound the strike zone down in the zone and it was pretty effective," Wacha said. "I kept them off-balance, which means it's a pretty good day. It's definitely nice to go deep into a ballgame and get a win. It definitely gets your confidence going in the next start that's for sure."

Trevor Rosenthal pitched 1 2-3 innings for his 11th save. Rosenthal, who blew a save Tuesday, inherited a one-out, bases-loaded situation and gave up a sacrifice fly, but closed out the inning and retired the side in the ninth.

The Cubs have lost nine of their last 11 and are off to the worst start in 39 games (13-26) since 2002.

Jason Hammel (4-2) gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in 5 1-3 innings, raising his ERA to 3.06. Hammel had six strikeouts.

St. Louis scored four runs in the second inning on Wacha's two-run single in between a run-scoring groundout by Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter's RBI double.

It was Wacha's first hit and RBIs of the season.

"It's nice to finally have a batting average," Wacha said.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny noted it was a timely hit.

"Mike was good and obviously getting that hit there to drive in a couple runs it was kind of a huge boost to us at that point," Matheny said.

With two outs, Hammel might have escaped with little damage but he had to throw a strike on a 3-2 count to Wacha and the bases loaded.

"I got behind Wacha with two wild ones," Hammel said. "I came in with a fastball and he hit it."

Chicago got two runs back in the fourth on a home run just inside the left-field foul pole by Starlin Castro. He drove in No. 3 hitter Anthony Rizzo, who beat the St. Louis shift to the right side with his second bunt to the left side in two at-bats.

Rizzo has three career bunt singles with the Cubs with one coming in his previous 285 games.

"If they're going to give me that, I might as well take it," Rizzo said. "We were able to cash in once. I almost make them pay twice for it. Wacha is a great pitcher but you get him on the stretch and try to get him off his game a little bit.

"You know if teams are going to give me that, for the most part, I'm going to take it every time."

When Rizzo came to bat in the fifth and seventh, St. Louis did not shift.

"Rizzo took advantage of the shift until they changed their defence on him," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "That led to our first two runs when Starlin drove the ball out of the ballpark. He's really looking at the game from a lot of different angles. Think about it, you're down four runs and a solo home run is not going to do a whole lot for you."

The Cardinals made it 5-2 when Molina lined a 3-2 pitch just inside the line in left for a one-out RBI single.

Junior Lake hit a sacrifice fly for a run in the eighth, but Rosenthal got out the jam.

St. Louis lost a challenge in the third when Matt Holliday was called out on a close play at first after hitting a grounder to shortstop. The time of the review was 2 minutes, 54 seconds.

NOTES: Missouri's new basketball coach Kim Anderson threw out the first pitch. "It was an honour to throw the first ball out," he said. "I was nervous out there, but it's something I will never forget." ... The Cardinals announced the time for making up Wednesday's game with the Cubs that was rained out. It will be played at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 30 as part of a split doubleheader. The second game will start at 7:15 p.m. instead of 6:15 p.m. ... The Cardinals recalled 2B Kolten Wong on Wednesday from Triple-A Memphis and optioned infielder Greg Garcia back to the club. Wong was optioned April 27 after hitting .225 in 20 games. He hit .344 in 10 games at Memphis. He was not in the starting lineup as he was still battling the effects of a stomach virus.

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