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Cubs spoil Cardinals' home opener with 9-5 victory

Friday, April 13, 2012 | 9:37 p.m. CDT
The St. Louis Cardinals played their season opener against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright waited almost 19 months to pitch in front of his home crowd.

He probably wants a do-over.

Wainwright turned in the worst home-field performance of his six-year career, giving up eight runs in three innings as the Chicago Cubs spoiled the St. Louis Cardinals' home opener with a 9-5 victory Friday.

"My body felt fine, my arm felt fine," Wainwright said. "There just wasn't a whole lot of life on my pitches. It happens sometimes. It's never happened quite like that."

Ian Stewart hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Bryan LaHair later connected for a grand slam, and Starlin Castro had three hits and a walk for the Cubs. Chicago has scored 17 runs the last two games after totaling 19 runs in the first six.

Wainwright's first start at home since Sept. 19, 2010 was a total mess from the get-go and tied his worst ever from a statistical standpoint.

"His off-speed stuff just wasn't there," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just wasn't sharp. That's not the Adam we saw in spring training."

That his outing unraveled moments after the pregame pomp and circumstance that featured 91-year-old Hall of Famer Stan Musial waving from a golf cart amid a standing ovation, and that a standing room crowd waited patiently through a rain delay of one hour and 44 minutes before it began only magnified the failure.

Clad in red sportcoats, fellow Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter toured the Busch Stadium warning track on the back of flatbed trucks. The franchise showed off its four World Series trophies, held by members of the 1967, 1982 and 2006 teams.

Players got the same treatment, accompanied by an endless rendition of the Budweiser beer song. There was a moment of silence for former star pitcher Bob Forsch as a bald eagle circled the field, and two F-16s did a flyover.

Then the Cubs, who were introduced to mild booing, took over. Stewart's early homer and the slam by LaHair in the third benefited Jeff Samardzija (2-0), who gave up 10 hits and barely qualified for the decision after the Cardinals scored five in the fifth.

Matt Carpenter had a two-run triple and Jon Jay, David Freese and Yadier Molina each had an RBI in the fifth. Freese came up short in two earlier at-bats, striking out with two on to end the first and tapping out with two on to end the third.

Wainwright (0-2) made his second start since coming off reconstructive elbow surgery that sidelined him all last season. He was in trouble after just nine pitches following a double by David DeJesus. Darwin Barney singled and Castro hit an RBI single. With one out, Stewart barely cleared the wall in left-center for his first homer since Aug. 23, 2010, off the Braves' Tim Hudson.

Wainwright worked a perfect second but four consecutive Cubs reached with one out in the third, capped by LaHair's grand slam for an 8-0 cushion. LaHair, who has two homers, led all minor leaguers with 38 last year for Triple-A Iowa.

"I certainly didn't have enough on the ball to make good quality pitches consistently," Wainwright said. "But, I will. I feel like I'm close to being the way I was. I'm just not there yet."

That was just about it for Wainwright, who matched a career worst with eight earned runs allowed. He also gave up eight on May 15, 2007, at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed nine runs at Milwaukee on Sept. 24, 2007, with just four earned.

Wainwright's previous low point at home was May 5, 2009, when he surrendered seven earned runs in six innings. Before Friday, Wainwright's 2.46 home ERA since 2006 had been the best among major league starters, and his 34 wins are the most at 7-year-old Busch Stadium.

Teammates have lost no confidence.

"He battled," Carpenter said. "There is not anybody in this clubhouse that is worried about him. No one is pushing the panic button right now."


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