ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals extended their winning streak to five and became the first team since the 2005 World Series champion White Sox to win 50 of its first 74 games by rolling over the Cubs, 8-1, in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium on Saturday night. St. Louis became just the 18th team in the past 50 years to win 50 of its first 74.
All nine players in the Cardinals' starting lineup finished with at least one hit as the team posted four-run innings in the fourth and fifth in support of starter Michael Wacha, who improved to 10-3. Chicago's Donn Roach, summoned from Triple-A Iowa to make his second career start, was knocked out after 3 1/3 innings. He and reliever Travis Wood were both charged with four runs.
Cardinals first baseman Xavier Scruggs contributed a pair of RBI hits as part of a three-hit night while making just his third start of the season. A two-out, two-run single by Matt Carpenter gave the club some breathing room as it batted around in the fourth. Five players tallied at least one RBI, and five scored at least one run.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twin killings, rally killers: The complexion of the game changed early when Wacha wiggled out of second-, third- and fourth-inning jams by ending each frame with a double play. The first came with the bases loaded, just after Roach had nicked Wacha for an RBI single. Wacha kept the Cubs from scoring with a runner on third and no outs in the third, then again after allowing a leadoff double in the fourth.
"The defense all night was just incredible," Wacha said. "I got myself into some tough spots there early in the game. My defense bailed me out in those innings." More >
Missed opportunities: A lack of clutch hitting has hurt the Cubs in their last four games, all losses, as they've collected just five runs on 36 hits in that span. On Saturday, Chicago had chances, beginning in the second, but Wacha got Addison Russell to hit into a double play to end the bases-loaded threat.
"We had opportunities; we did a lot of good things early," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's what we have to get good at -- we have opportunities to get on top, build off it. It's been there. We just have to do better."
Carpenter carves up Wood: Carpenter snapped an 0-for-10 skid with his two-run hit off Wood to cap a four-run fourth, which turned a one-run deficit into a three-run lead. Yadier Molina and Scruggs also had run-scoring hits in the frame.
"Even Matt Carpenter, who didn't have a huge day, probably had the biggest swing of the day with a two-out base hit," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's big just for his confidence's sake. We still have some guys we need to get going, but it's great watching the bulk of the guys having some success."
Start me up: Roach is a ground-ball pitcher, and he was able to keep the ball down. The trouble is, the Cardinals' hitters found holes. Promoted to sub for injured starter Tsuyoshi Wada, Roach was lifted after the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead with one out in the fourth on the strength of five hits over a six-batter span. The right-hander threw 61 pitches, giving up four runs on eight hits. He did his part at the plate, hitting an RBI single in the second.
"Obviously, I'm not striking a lot of guys out," Roach said. "They hit them in the middle, and no one's there." More >
"I keep hearing from other guys I talk to on other teams and they say, 'Gosh, you guys just keep winning.' You look at it on paper, it's expected and it's the way that we mix together. The message that Mike [Matheny] gives is, 'You have to pick the guy up next to you.' Everybody does his part." -- Cardinals reliever Carlos Villanueva, who notched his fourth career save of three innings or more
"That's why they are so good, because they didn't give us any chances. If they have an opportunity to score runs, they score. We have to keep grinding. It's a good test for us." -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro
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With his start on Saturday, Roach became the 1,999th player to appear in a game for the Cubs in franchise history.
Wacha, who was struck by a Castro liner in the second inning, said he felt no residual effects from taking the ball off his right quad.
"It caught me in a good spot," Wacha said. "A lot of meat. It's all good. I was able to keep pitching. Everything is fine."
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Jason Hammel will start the series finale Sunday night against the Cardinals. The right-hander has posted quality starts in eight of his last 11 outings, and he's 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA in that stretch. In his last start, against the Dodgers, Hammel gave up two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 CT.
Cardinals:Carlos Martinez will be seeking his ninth win of the season as he takes the mound on Sunday to make his second start of the year against the Cubs. He allowed seven runs over a season-low 3 2/3 innings in a start against Chicago on May 4.