- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Travis Wood was sailing along, matching Adam Wainwright out for out. Then, in a flash, everything unraveled for him.

Wood could not avoid the big inning, and the Cubs could not touch Wainwright in an 8-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.

“I made some good pitches tonight,” Wood said after giving up seven runs in five innings. “Pitches were sharp. They got the hits when they needed them, dropped a couple in (that) were perfectly placed. That’s how it’s been going.”

It was a different story for Wainwright. He joined Clayton Kershaw as the majors’ only 20-game winners, pitching three-hit ball over seven innings.

Wainwright hit the 20-win mark for the second time while matching his career-high for victories, and the Cardinals moved a step closer toward their second straight division title.

They remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central with five to play with the Pirates beating Atlanta 1-0. St. Louis clinched its fourth straight playoff appearance on Sunday.

“It’s a tremendous honor, obviously,” Wainwright said about winning 20. “But more important, it’s a big win for our team.”

Wainwright (20-9) won his fifth straight start and made it look easy, striking out eight and walking one.

He gave up a double to Anthony Rizzo with two out in the first and did not allow another hit until back-to-back singles by Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo with two out in the seventh.

Just like Kershaw did for the Dodgers on Friday, Wainwright picked up his 20th win at Wrigley Field. And when he did it in 2010, victory No. 20 that year also came at the famed old ballpark.

He got plenty of support in this one, with the Cardinals jumping on Wood (8-13) after he retired nine of the first 10 batters - five on strikeouts.

The Cardinals scored four in the fourth and three in the fifth on the way to their eighth win in 10 games.

Matt Holliday had two hits and scored two runs. He also drove in one.

Matt Adams chipped in with two hits and two RBIs. Jon Jay added two hits and drove in three, capping a four-run fourth with a two-run single to make it 4-0.

Holliday also had a run-scoring double to left and Yadier Molina singled in a run in that inning, and the Cardinals broke it open in the fifth.

Matt Carpenter led off that inning with a walk and was ruled safe at second tagging on Randal Grichuk’s fly to center following a replay review after initially being called out. He scored on Holliday’s bloop single to right, and Adams capped the rally with a two-run single to make it 7-0.

Wood felt sharp overall but still couldn’t avoid the big innings. That’s something he will try to fix in the offseason.

“Wasn’t a good year for me overall,” said Wood, owner of a 5.03 ERA after making the NL All-Star team last season. “With that being said, it showed me a lot of the stuff that I need to take into the offseason to work on because you learn a lot more about yourself as a pitcher when things aren’t going good as opposed to when things are.”


Cardinals: Adams and Carpenter returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a stomach virus that’s been battering the team. Nearly half the Cardinals’ players and coaches have been affected by it in recent days. Assistant batting coach David Bell and pitcher Marco Gonzales were not with the team Monday because of the virus. “There’s still some aftermath (of the virus) going around,” Adams said. “But it’s getting a lot better.”

Cubs: RF Jorge Soler was back in the Cubs’ lineup after leaving Saturday’s game against the Dodgers as a precaution due to wet conditions. He had a scheduled day off on Sunday.


RHP Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.68 ERA) looks to stay on a roll for St. Louis, as the Cardinals continue their three-game series against the Cubs. He is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four starts in September. RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.28) starts for Chicago.


The Cardinals are 14-31 in night games at Wrigley Field.


The Cubs have been outscored 45-22 while dropping four of five.

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