Assad and 4 relievers help Cubs end Cards’ 8-game streak, 2-0

CHICAGO (AP) — Javier Assad threw four scoreless innings in his major league debut and combined with four relievers on five hits as the Chicago Cubs chilled the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 on Tuesday in the first match of a doubleheader.

Michael Rucker (3-1), Sean Newcomb, Erich Uelmen and Brandon Hughes allowed one hit in the final five innings to end the NL Central-leading Cardinals’ eight-game winning streak. Hughes made his third save.

“Phenomenal work from the whole pitching team, obviously, keeping these guys from running,” Cubs manager David Ross said.

Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki drove in races against St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright in third. Rookie Christopher Morel had two hits for the Cubs, who won six of eight.

Chicago kept Albert Pujols, 42, in the stadium. He went 1 for 4 with a brace after batting .548 (17 for 33) with seven homers in his previous 10 games.

“We’ve had big hits a lot over the last two weeks and the guys have taken advantage of that,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “But today we got some good shots to hit and we were missing them.”

Assad, 25, was selected in Triple-A Iowa ahead of the game. The right-hander allowed four hits, walked four and struck out three.

“A really great debut for him,” Ross said. “He looked calm there, pounding the strike zone. The cutter was working really well for him, being able to come straight at them right out of the chute.

Rucker relieved Assad with two runs and no outs in the fifth and Chicago ahead 2-0. He pulled out Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Nolan Gorman to end the threat, then pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.

“For me, Rucker’s performance was really impressive,” Ross said.

Wainwright (9-9) drove in two runs on five hits in six innings.

Lars Nootbaar doubled twice but was ejected at home plate in the first when he tried to score from third on Goldschmidt’s grounder in the first.

The Cardinals charged with two outs in the third on Brendan Donovan’s single followed by two walks. Assad forced Gorman out.

The Cubs scored on Hoerner’s RBI field and Suzuki’s single down the middle that deflected Wainwright’s glove.

LONG ROAD

Assad, a native of Tijuana, Mexico, joined the Cubs organization at age 18 in 2016. His wife and parents were in the stands at Wrigley Field.

“It’s something we worked hard for, seven years in this organization,” Assad said through a translator. “It’s definitely something that matches what I thought it was going to be.”

Assad’s first strikeout: Getting Pujols to watch the second inning.

“I was 3 when he debuted,” Assad said. “So I never would have imagined that I would have faced him, let alone that strikeout.”

WHITE AGAIN

The Cubs shut out the Cardinals for the second time this season, following a 3-0 win at St. Louis on June 24.

DRUM BUTTONS

Wainwright and wide receiver Yadier Molina, both 40, started their 321st game as teammates. That’s right behind Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan, who worked 324 together.

LIST MOVEMENTS

Chicago went for RHP Kervin Castro at Triple-A Iowa and selected RHP Nicholas Padilla from the Farm Club as the 27th man for the doubleheader. … St. Louis added LHP Matthew Liberatore of Triple-A Memphis as the 27th man. The 22-year-old is considered the Cardinals’ best starting prospect but has struggled in two previous stints with St. Louis this season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Manager Oliver Marmol said he hopes RHP Ryan Helsley returns on Wednesday. Helsley was played on the paternity list on Friday and then moved to the shortlist on Monday.

Cubs: INF Patrick Wisdom (finger) stayed out of the lineup. … OF Jason Heyward (inflamed right knee) was moved to the 60-day injured list. The five-time Golden Glove winner has not played since June 24.

NEXT

St. Louis RHP Jake Woodford (2-0, 2.66 ERA) was scheduled to face Chicago’s Adrian Sampson (1-3, 3.51) in the final drink.

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