ST. LOUIS — Manager Rick Renteria had his office closed for most of Thursday morning as he tried to combat cold-like symptoms that have nagged him for the past few days.
A victory over St. Louis might have remedied some of the discomfort Renteria has felt since an extra-inning loss Tuesday followed by a rainout Wednesday night.
After striking out the side in the first inning with the help of a sharp curve, Hammel’s control deserted him as he walked two batters to load the bases. Luis Valbuena made a diving stop to allow only one run to score, but opposing pitcher Michael Wacha hit an RBI single and score on a two-run double by Matt Carpenter.
The Cubs mounted a rally in the first when Rizzo counted the Cardinals’ shift with a bunt single down the third base line and Castro followed with a single. But Valbuena flied to left.
Rizzo came back with another bunt single to start the third and was rewarded when Castro followed with a two-run home run down the left field line off Wacha.
The Cardinals knocked out Hammel in the sixth after a double by Matt Holliday and a single by Yadier Molina.
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but scored only once on a sacrifice fly by Junior Lake.
Both benches were warned after Molina was brushed back by a pitch from reliever Neil Ramirez in the bottom of the eighth. Molina gestured his displeasure to the Cubs’ bench.
Because of Wednesday’s postponement, the Cubs adjusted their rotation for the next three series. Jeff Samardzija will start Friday’s series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, followed by Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood.
The Cubs will keep Hammel and Samardzija on their regular schedule by having them start the two-game series against the New York Yankees that starts Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Hammel is scheduled to oppose Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka.
Jake Arrieta, who had followed Wood in the rotation, had his next start pushed back by to May 22 at San Diego.