Cubs bats warm up with weather in 8-5 win over Cards

If you'd like to tell your statistics to shut up, what about your advanced statistics?

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was all about telling them to silence themselves Thursday after an 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Although the weather turned sunny, the elements were hardly in favor of the longball, with a gametime temperature of 47 degrees and a chilly breeze of 11 mph blowing straight in.

Intentional or not, Cubs batters kept the ball in play and built an early 6-1 lead.

How about this? Over the first two innings, the Cubs piled up 9 hits. Eight were singles, with 5 driving in runs.

"Good approach, good at-bats, weren't they?" Maddon said. "That is so fun to watch. Keep your launch angles. Keep your exit velocities. Give me a good at-bat. Those were really good at-bats - staying inside the ball, using the whole field. I promise you, if the guys stay on that path, balls are still going to go out of the ballpark at the pace that they're capable of, not a greater pace, but a pace that they're capable of.

"With that, you'll see better situational hitting. You'll see more higher batting averages, all that stuff, on-base percentages. I loved our approach today."

The Cubs wound up with 14 hits, all but 2 were singles, as they improved to 8-8 and split the weather-shortened series a game apiece.

Each of the nine starters had at least a hit, including Anthony Rizzo, who had three.

"Everyone does their routine, and today we put the ball in play and played well," Rizzo said. "If we put good swings on the ball, good things will happen, hopefully in the long run."

The extra-base hits came from Javier Baez, who batted second and tripled to right-center in the first as the Cubs scored twice to erase a 1-0 deficit, and from Jason Heyward, who further spoiled the singles party with a 2-run homer in the fifth.

In between, the Cubs sent nine men to the plate in a 4-run second against Cardinals starting pitcher Luke Weaver.

"I feel like we have a good approach, a good mindset, to start each day," Heyward said. "It's good to have a plan together, collectively, and execute that. When a pitcher has his stuff and he's on, obviously, it's hard to score runs, hard to get base hits. Today's just the example of going up there with a simple approach for us and take what they give us."

The Cubs pitcher was on. Jon Lester (2-0, 3.10 ERA) worked 6 innings, giving up 2 hits and only an unearned run in the first. Eddie Butler got into trouble in the seventh, failing to retire any of the four batters he faced and being charged with 4 runs.

But bullpen mates Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow (third save) rode to the rescue.

Lester noted something about those Cubs hitters that's important to bear in mind.

"It's just good quality at-bats," he said. "We had good at-bats all day, and that's just nice to see. What people forget, and I always kind of go back to this, guys are still young. They're maturing at the big-league level. Really, in some other organizations, some of these guys probably wouldn't be up here or (be) knocking on the door to get here. And these guys have been here for three years, some longer.

"Every day is a learning process. Every day is figuring out something about themselves. And it's just fun to watch and see, to watch them go out and do what they've been doing. Really, we've had some good offensive games for the most part this year. If we can keep people (from other teams) off the basepaths, we'll be going in the right direction."

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Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester heads to first after getting a hit off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Matt Bowman on Thursday in Chicago. Associated Press
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