Hammel gives up key hit to Wacha, Cards beat Cubs

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm •  Published: May 15, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jason Hammel struck out the side to start the game. That fast start quickly unraveled for the Cubs right-hander.

Hammel gave up four runs in the second inning and Chicago lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 Thursday.

St. Louis rookie pitcher Michael Wacha's two-run single in between a run-scoring groundout by Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter's RBI double was the key hit in the inning.

"It's a kiss of death to strike out the side in the first inning," Hammel said. "Today was probably the best physically I've felt all year. That's the way the game works. Sometimes it doesn't work out. I was able to battle through it and keep us in it for a while.

"I was aggressive, but I wasn't quality aggressive. That's where I've got to make my adjustments. A lot of it was just bad timing for misses. I was confident in what I was doing. It was a little bit of a labor," he said.

Hammel (4-2) gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in 5 1-3 innings, raising his ERA to 3.06. He struck out six.

The Cubs have lost nine of their last 11 and are off to the worst start in 39 games (13-26) since 2002.

Despite that statistic, Hammel said he believes Chicago is not that far off.

"You've got to stay looking at the positives because we've played a lot of good ballgames," Hammel said, "We're not getting blown out. It's not ugly games. It's just one or two pitches here or there or one or two timely hits we haven't gotten.

"We're not just laying down. It's frustrating but actually, we've played pretty good ball," he said.

The 6-foot-6 Wacha (3-3) had lost his last three decisions since an April 13 win over the Cubs. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed seven hits, including a homer, but did not walk a batter. He struck out five in seven innings.

"I was able to pound the strike zone down in the zone and it was pretty effective," Wacha said. "I kept them off-balance, which means it's a pretty good day. It's definitely nice to go deep into a ballgame and get a win. It definitely gets your confidence going in the next start that's for sure."

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