"We've been struggling at home to score runs, and it isn't going to be much easier to score with Wainwright on the mound," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before the game.
He was right. The Cubs had been shut out five times in their last seven home games, but Junior Lake's RBI double with two out in the sixth avoided another.
Sveum didn't stick around to watch the end, getting tossed in the seventh for arguing a third-strike call by home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi on Donnie Murphy's check-swing attempt. While Sveum was getting his point across, pitcher James Russell was ejected from the dugout by third-base umpire Tom Hallion.
Wainwright struck out the next two batters, and the Cubs finished the game 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"Wainwright was pitching well, and to be able to get a couple guys on board with no outs and get something going, and then something like that happens, and it felt like the momentum got sucked right out of us," Murphy said of the questionable call.
The Cubs have now scored 12 runs in their last eight home games, with seven coming in Friday's 7-0 win to open the series. They're batting .197 in the eight games, and are 4-for-38 (.105) with runners in scoring position.
"We seem to get guys on base enough during the game, but we're not getting those runs in. or that three-run homer to break a game open or that two-run double or anything from anybody," Sveum said.
Starlin Castro, who has been scuffling at the plate and was benched Saturday after a mental lapse in the field, ended an 0-for-16 skid with a leadoff single in the third. Sveum decided Castro had been embarrassed enough and should play.
"I don't think this kid can get better by not playing today and understanding the adversity that we all go through in the game," Sveum said beforehand.
Castro did extend his career-high errorless streak at shortstop to 26 games, but not without a little anxiety. His previous mark was 24, from July 14-Aug. 9, 2011. There weren't many other Cubs highlights.
"It's tough when that happens," Castro said of being benched. "The next day, you feel a little nervous, because you don't want to make a mistake again. My first ground ball [Sunday], I felt a little nervous, because I didn't want to make an error after what happened yesterday. [I had to] just go out there and be positive and not think about [what happened]."
Edwin Jackson took the loss, but might have escaped some damage if Lake had caught a fly ball. Yadier Molina doubled down the left-field line with one out in the second, and scored on Jay's double that followed nearly the exact same path. Kolten Wong reached second on Lake's error, as Lake muffed a fly ball in center. Daniel Descalso was intentionally walked to load the bases, and one out later, Matt Carpenter drove in a pair with a single for a 3-0 lead.
After Lake's RBI double made it 3-1, the Cards put two runners in scoring position with one out in the seventh, and Jay connected for his sixth home run on a 1-1 pitch from Russell, called on to face the left-handed hitter. The numbers favored Russell. This was the first home run he's given up to a left-handed batter, and Jay was hitting .198 against lefties before the at-bat.
"Jay has struggled all year against left-handed pitching, and [Russell] got a slider up, and Jay hit it through the wind," Sveum said. "He hit that ball about as good as you can hit a ball, the way the wind was blowing."
With the win, Wainwright improved to 6-0 in 11 career starts at Wrigley. He joins Ron Perranoski, Vida Blue and Bobby J. Jones as the only pitchers to win their first six decisions on the Cubs' home field.
"That's a team that has given me trouble the last few years," said Wainwright, who snapped a six-start winless streak against the Cubs. "I don't think I've beaten them in almost three years. It's nice to come to a place that I love pitching and deliver."
The Cubs were left shaking their heads.
"There weren't too many good things that happened," Sveum said. "The dropped fly ball led to some things that could've been a different game. One pitch from Russell got that out of hand."
The Cubs haven't quit. Check out Anthony Rizzo's diving grab of Molina's popup in the fifth in which the first baseman nearly ended up head-first in the visitors' dugout.
"The ball hung up long enough," Rizzo said. "It's something I mess around with and say I can do. It was just a perfect opportunity, I guess, to do it."
Some of the Cardinals in the dugout were there to save him from landing on his face.
"That's good sportsmanship," Rizzo said. "I probably would've went in pretty hard there, head first."
"We're not giving up by any means," Jackson said. "We're out there fighting and battling. Sometimes things don't work in our favor, sometimes things don't look the best the way we do them. It's a young team and things are going to happen throughout the season. Everybody is giving 110 percent, and at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for."