ST. LOUIS - Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his young players were plenty comfortable despite the enhanced pressure of the playoffs.
They didn't look so comfortable Friday night.
The Cubs were shut out by the Cardinals 4-0 in front of 47,830 fans at Busch Stadium in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
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The Cubs managed just two hits and a walk against Cardinals starter John Lackey and two relievers. Lackey tossed 7.1 shutout innings, striking out five and keeping Cubs hitters off balance all night.
"He was just good," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "He executed pitches. It's plain and simple. It's not rocket science. When the pitcher is executing pitches, it's hard to get hits. You saw that today.
"He's their No. 1 on the hill for a reason. They executed the gameplan really well. We didn't get a lot of solid contact. That's how it goes."
Lackey had a no-hitter going until Addison Russell singled up the middle to lead off the sixth inning. Beyond that, the only Cubs baserunners were Kyle Schwarber - who walked in the fourth, laid down a bunt base hit against the shift in the seventh and singled in the ninth - and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler drawing a walk in the ninth inning.
"We didn't come up with the hits we needed to," Schwarber said. "Plain and simple."
The Cardinals touched up Lester for a run in the first inning as Stephen Piscotty doubled down the right-field line and Matt Holliday immediately singled him home.
Lester settled in and didn't allow another run until Tommy Pham's pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After a walk to Matt Carpenter, Lester gave way to Pedro Strop, who promptly gave up a two-run shot to Piscotty to make it a four-run ballgame.
Lester finished with nine strikeouts in 7.1 innings, surrendering the three runs on five hits and a walk but got no offense behind him.
"We could not get anything generated," Maddon said. "We had maybe like one opportunity when eventually Addison advanced to third base.
"They pitched really well all season. That's a big reason why they've won 100 games."