After losing the first two games of the series by a grand total of two runs, the Cubs had to be feeling good at their chances of avoiding a sweep by sending Jake Arrieta out on the mound.
But baseball doesn't always follow a script.
The Cardinals hammered the Cubs Wednesday afternoon, sweeping the series with a 7-2 victory in front of 41,058 stunned fans at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs haven't been swept in the regular season since they lost all three to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley last July (which included Cole Hamels' no-hitter).
"We just had a tough day," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We did not hit the ball as well as we possibly can during this series. We didn't score enough runs. Understatement.
"Give them credit. They really pitched well. They played well. They beat us fair and square."
Arrieta only allowed one earned run, but needed 106 pitches to get through five innings, surrendering four hits and walking four batters to take his second loss of the season.
The Cubs imploded in the sixth, allowing five runs on five hits and some sloppy defense. Justin Grimm was touched up for four of those runs while recording just one out, watching his ERA balloon to 6.04.
In the three-game set, the Cubs went just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The only Cubs pitcher to record a quality start was John Lackey in the first game, while all three Cardinals (Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright Michael Wacha) had a quality start.
The Cubs also gave up five homers in the three-game series with the only Cubs blast coming off the bat of rookie Willson Contreras with his team already down seven runs Wednesday.
"[The sweep] is tough. It's something you don't want to happen," Miguel Montero said. "When was the last time that happened? They played us good. The first two games were really close. [Wednesday] wasn't as close. But Wacha did a good job, too. So you gotta give him credit. Tip your hat to him. He was sharp."
Montero tweaked his right knee trying to make a tag at home plate in the sixth inning and had to be removed from the game, but by the time he walked back to the clubhouse, he was feeling better and the tests all came back OK.
Anthony Rizzo, however, is dealing with some back tightness and was removed from the game in the seventh inning. Maddon said he may give Rizzo another day off Thursday against a left-handed starter.
Rizzo insisted he would have stayed in the game if it wasn't already 7-0 at that point.
"You never want to get swept by any team, especially the Cardinals, who we've played really well the last couple years," Rizzo said. "They came in and they just beat us. Move on from it; go to Miami. We play tomorrow and then get back on the horse."
The Cubs now hit the road for an 11-game road trip with stops in Miami, Cincinnati and then New York (Mets).
"You just gotta move on," Montero said. "We're gonna go to Miami, refresh your mind, go down to the beach, lay down, get a little tan. And then go play."
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