- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Cardinals jumped on starter Jason Hammel for four runs in the second inning after Hammel struck out the side in the first. The big blow was a two-out, two-run single by pitcher Michael Wacha. Mark Ellis and Matt Carpenter had the other RBIs in the inning. The Cubs cut the lead in half in the third when Starlin Castro went deep for the sixth time this season after Anthony Rizzo bunted for a single to lead off the inning. Rizzo had two bunt hits in the game. The Cardinals added one in the sixth when Yadier Molina drove in Matt Holliday, who had doubled to start the inning. Newly activated Jose Veras came on in relief of Hammel and got out of the inning with a double-play grounder. Junior Lake drove in the Cubs' third run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, but the Cubs left the bases loaded when Nate Schierholtz grounded out as a pinch-hitter. Hammel lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and five runs to go along with two walks and six strikeouts.
What it means: It's the first time Hammel has struggled a bit in a Cubs uniform. He lost his command in the second inning, walking two batters to set up a bases-loaded jam. He was hit hard in the sixth as well, but in between he pitched OK. As the weather turns warmer and teams face newcomer Hammel, it will be interesting to see how he fares the second or even third time against the same team. If he's to be trade bait, then how he's pitching in June and July is way more important than April and May. He was great the first month but came back down to earth a bit on Thursday. ... Veras made some small strides in his return to action, getting that double-play grounder. He faced one batter.
Benches warned: Plate umpire Will Little warned both benches after Yadier Molina took exception to Neil Ramirez's high fastball that went to the backstop in the eighth inning.
Rizzo beats shift: Rizzo bunted twice for hits in his first two times at the plate on Thursday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it's the first time a No. 3 hitter has done that since Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 27, 2011. Both of Rizzo's hits came against an exaggerated shift, with third baseman Matt Carpenter basically playing shortstop. For Rizzo's third at-bat, Carpenter moved closer to third until there were two strikes on Rizzo, who then flied out.
Pitching rotation: Due to the rainout on Wednesday, the Cubs adjusted their pitching schedule. Jake Arrieta will be pushed back until next Thursday in San Diego while everyone else will stay on their normal schedule. That means Hammel and Jeff Samardzija will face the New York Yankees next week after the Cubs take on the Brewers this weekend.
What's next: The 13-26 Cubs return home to take on the first place Milwaukee Brewers for a three-game series beginning Friday at Wrigley Field. Samardzija (0-3, 1.45) faces Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.75) in a 1:20 p.m. CT game.