Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 6, Cubs 2

ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday:

How it Happened: Cubs starter Edwin Jackson was hit early and often as the Cardinals scored two in the first and four in the third. Matt Holliday hit a two-run home run to start the scoring before Yadier Molina and Pete Kozma produced run-scoring doubles. The final blow -- after an intentional walk to the No. 8 hitter -- was a run-scoring single by pitcher Adam Wainwright. Jackson left the game with lat discomfort on his right side after that hit. Anthony Rizzo hit a ninth-inning home run to ruin the shutout, and Donnie Murphy drove in another run, but the Cubs managed just three hits off Wainright and Cardinals’ relievers in the first eight innings.

What it Means: Jackson ended his season about the same way he began it: by getting hit hard. He gave up eight hits and six runs in just 2.2 innings to a team that celebrated a division title late into the night on Friday. Jackson has three more years left on his contract, so there’s plenty of time to rebound from his poor season, but as of this moment, he’s a candidate for one of the worst free-agent signings in Cubs history. He went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA in 2013.

Outside the Box: Starlin Castro is quietly finishing the season on a high note. Since returning to the leadoff position after a one-day stint batting eighth in late August, he’s raised his batting average seven points and he’s hitting the ball with more authority. It’s also the time he said he would return to his roots as a hitter and not worry about how many pitches he sees. His finish could be a huge lift for him heading into 2014.

What’s Next: The Cubs season concludes on Sunday when Jeff Samardzija faces Jake Westbrook.