ST. LOUIS – John Lackey lived up to his reputation as a pitcher who craves the ball in October, helping the St. Louis Cardinals cool off the upstart Chicago Cubs.
Lackey outpitched old teammate Jon Lester, giving up two hits into the eighth inning, and rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty each homered late for the Cardinals in a 4-0 victory Friday night in the opener of their NL Division Series.
"Tonight was special, for sure," said Lackey, 36. "The atmosphere was outstanding, the crowd was really into it, and I knew I'd have to pitch well."
He did it in front of a standing-room-only announced crowd of 47,830 — the second-largest at 10-year-old Busch Stadium — with thousands of Cubs faithful mixed into the red throng for the first postseason game between the two long-time rivals.
"I thought his fastball was about as good as we've seen. Period," manager Mike Matheny said. "Anything you wanted to do, he pretty much had it."
Yadier Molina did his part behind the plate, too, wearing a splint to protect a strained left thumb ligament that sidelined him since Sept. 20. He was 0-for-3 but seemingly had no issues.
"The way he moved behind the plate, the way he and John were working, he is so valuable to our club in so many ways," Matheny said.
Lackey protected a 1-0 lead by holding the Cubs hitless for five innings. Addison Russell ended the suspense with a single up the middle to open the sixth and Kyle Schwarber's bunt hit leading off the seventh was the only other hit off Lackey in 7⅓ innings.
Kevin Siegrist struck out two to end the eighth, when it was still a one-run game. Trevor Rosenthal gave up a single and a walk but fanned three in finishing the three-hitter.
Matt Holliday had an RBI single in the first, giving St. Louis a lead after just three at-bats. Pinch hitting, Pham homered off Lester with one out in the eighth to snap a string of 13 straight outs for the lefty. Piscotty added a two-run shot off Pedro Strop.