ST. LOUIS - John Lackey outpitched old teammate Jon Lester, allowing two hits into the eighth inning, and rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty each homered late as the St. Louis Cardinals cooled off the Chicago Cubs with a 4-0 victory Friday night in the opener of their NL Division Series.
In front of a standing room only crowd of 47,830 -- the second-largest at 10-year-old Busch Stadium -- thousands of Cubs faithful mixed into the red throng for the first postseason game between the two long-time rivals.
Most popular baseball stories
Lackey held the Cubs hitless for five innings, getting help from Kris Bryant' double-play ball by to end the fourth. Addison Russell ended the suspense with a solid single up the middle to open the sixth and Kyle Schwarber's bunt hit leading off the seventh was the only other hit allowed by Lackey in 7 1-3 innings.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday. The Cardinals turn to lefty Jaime Garcia (10-6), who made 20 starts coming off risky thoracic surgery. Kyle Hendricks (8-7) makes his postseason debut for the NL wild-card winners.
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 had a two-run shot off Pedro Strop in the eighth.
The 36-year-old Lackey outdid Lester, with whom he formed a potent 1-2 punch on the 2013 Red Sox, the team that knocked off the Cardinals in the World Series.
Lackey is 3-0 with an 0.93 ERA in four starts against Chicago overall. Lester is 1-4, but he has a 2.79 ERA against St. Louis.
Including their wild-card victory at Pittsburgh, the Cubs had won nine in a row. They haven't scored since the fifth inning of that 4-0 victory, however.
Lester, the Cubs' big offseason free-agent pickup, settled in for an impressive night after the first. Piscotty doubled with one out and scored on Holliday's single. Lester struck out nine and gave up three runs on five hits in 7 1-3 innings.
St. Louis led the majors with 100 wins and finished three games ahead of the Cubs, who are making their first postseason appearance since 2008. The Cardinals were outscored 12-0 the final three games at Atlanta after wrapping up their third straight NL Central title.
Kevin Siegrist struck out Chris Coghlan and Russell to end the eighth when it was still a one-run cushion.
Reggie Sanders threw a strike to the plate on the ceremonial first pitch. Ten years ago, Sanders hit a grand slam off San Diego's Jake Peavy in the opener of the division series.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler hasn't played much since coming back from a left oblique strain in mid-September, getting four starts the last 17 games counting the wild card game.
Cardinals: Matt Adams was left off the division series roster because he's still rounding into form following surgery for a torn quadriceps.
Garcia has made a full recovery from thoracic outlet surgery that cost him much of the previous three seasons. "Every time I take that mound, basically take it as if it's your last time ever to pitch in a major league game," Garcia said. Hendricks worked six scoreless innings each of his last two starts. He had a major-league high and franchise record 17 no-decisions. Matt Carpenter is 6 for 10 with a homer and three RBIs and Holliday is 6 for 12 with two homers and four RBIs against the right-hander, making his first postseason appearance. He batted .050 with one RBI. Garcia didn't face the Cubs in the regular season but he's 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five career starts against them. Hendricks answered only four questions at his pre-game media session and said all the right things about the Cardinals. "I mean, they're the best team in baseball, right?" Hendricks said. "They have the most wins,. Really good lineup, experienced lineup."