CHICAGO • As far as emotions go Thursday at Wrigley Field, that empty feeling the Cardinals had on the scoreboard ran a distant third behind concern and searing anger.
The Cardinals’ 3-0 loss to the rival Cubs started with an injury to Matt Holliday and added a perceived insult to Matt Adams at the end.
Manager Mike Matheny was ejected from the game after the final out because he confronted home plate umpire Dan Bellino about how the official dismissed Adams in the ninth inning following a called third strike.
Matheny and Bellino exchanged verbal fireworks as Bellino walked off the field, and Matheny was eventually restrained by crew chief Wally Bell.
The Cardinals’ manager appeared to make contact with the umpires as they separated him from Bellino. The Cardinals felt Bellino had “shooed” Adams away as the rookie questioned the call.
“It had more to do with the umpire and how he mistreated one of our players,” Matheny said after the game. “It had nothing to do with the call. It had everything to do with him going too far. You can’t take your mask off and motion somebody away. We haven’t had any trouble. We haven’t been complaining all game long.
“He wanted to be seen, so now he’s going to be seen.”
The Cardinals are left to wait and see what Major League Baseball’s view of Matheny’s argument will be, and who will be available in the dugout this weekend.
Holliday was removed from the game in the fourth inning because of a hamstring injury. He called himself “day to day” after spending most of the game icing and receiving treatment.
He grimaced and gripped his right hamstring while trying to outrun a grounder in his fourth inning at-bat. Holliday stepped gingerly toward first base and had to tread carefully as he walked off the field. He made it back to the clubhouse without help.
“Just grabbed me a little bit,” Holliday said of the injury. “I’ll have a better feel for what it looks like (today). Hopefully be able to use the (All-Star) break and be all right.”
The only resolution the Cardinals found Thursday was in the box score.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, a member of the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series team, stymied many of his former teammates with seven shutout innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
The Cardinals got two runners into scoring position against Jackson, but the only time they got to third base the righty struck out David Freese with his final pitch of the game, an 85-mph slider.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo provided all of the Cubs’ runs, on two hits off Cardinals righty Jake Westbrook.
The loss ended the Cardinals’ five-game winning streak against losing teams. The Cubs (41-49), who are still auctioning off players to the highest bidders this month, inched ever closer to .500 with their fifth win in six games.
It took the Cubs three pitchers to get the three outs in the eighth inning and keep the Cardinals from converting on their best offensive chance of the game.
The Cardinals got a leadoff hit from Jon Jay and a walk from pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso to bring the tying run to the plate, twice. Lefty James Russell retired Matt Carpenter on a hard liner to center, and righty Pedro Strop struck out Carlos Beltran on an off-speed pitch that left the veteran, in his 2,000th game, casting his bat through the strike zone.
The Cardinals got the tying run to the plate in the ninth against closer Kevin Gregg. But when Jay’s sinking liner was plucked by left fielder Alfonso Soriano just before it hit the grass the argument near the dugout started.
It had nothing to do with Soriano’s catch.
It had everything to do with Gregg’s strikeout of Adams.
Adams said he thought the third strike “was a ball.” He said as much to Bellino.
The third-year umpire removed his mask and appeared to wave the rookie back to the dugout. That incensed Matheny.
“Nobody should be showing up the players like that,” Matheny said. “I think they know that, too.”
A request to arrange an interview of the umpires was not granted before the umpires were ever approached about commenting.
Back at the ballpark where his elbow injury became too much to continuing pitching through back in May, Westbrook (5-4) allowed three runs on seven hits in his seven innings.
He struggled with his command before settling in for the final three innings. Of Westbrook’s 101 pitches, 41 were balls, and the leadoff hitter reached base in four of his final five innings.
In the third, a leadoff walk was followed by a single and a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position.
That brought Rizzo to the plate. His RBI double in the first inning made him five-for-nine (.556) in his career against Westbrook. The Cardinals righty tested Rizzo with a split-finger fastball outside of the zone. Rizzo reached for it and poked a two-run grounder to left field.
“The wild pitch was probably the biggest thing,” Westbrook said. “Not much chance for a double play at that point. I made a good pitch, got a groundball that happened to find a hole.”
Jackson (6-10) won his third consecutive start.
He had not gone seven innings for his new team since June 9, and he’d yet to have a scoreless start this season before Thursday.
The fallout from the game could carry through the next few days as the Cardinals’ await word on Holliday’s health and Matheny’s status after the argument.
The game itself is more easily forgotten. The Cardinals went hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position; the Cubs had Rizzo’s one hit that mattered. The Cardinals were shut out for the third time this season, the first in 66 games.
“It’s a whole different story if we put anything together against Jackson,” Matheny said. “But we just couldn’t get it going. When he’s on he’s tough, and he was on.”