CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs had Joe Maddon in the dugout and Jon Lester on the mound. Wrigley Field had a new look, with a giant videoboard in left field and pictures of Ernie Banks draped over the closed bleachers.
The St. Louis Cardinals had Adam Wainwright and a bunch of familiar faces in the lineup. And it was more than enough for the NL Central champs.
Opening night went to the old guard.
Wainwright threw six innings of five-hit ball, leading the Cardinals to a 3-0 victory over Lester and the Cubs on Sunday in the major league opener.
“I was fortunate to throw some good pitches when I needed to throw some good pitches,” Wainwright said.
Jason Heyward had three hits in his St. Louis debut, and Matt Holliday drove in two runs. Throw in Matt Carpenter’s two hits, and the top third of the Cardinals’ lineup went 7-for-14 with three RBIs.
“Selfishly, I like the idea of hitting between those two,” Heyward said. “Holly can do damage and Carp sees so many pitches and has good (at-bats). I’m going to be kind of spoiled hitting there.”
Playing their most anticipated opener in years, the Cubs went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Lester, who got a $155 million, six-year contract during free agency, allowed three runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his fifth straight opening day start.
“Just wasn’t real sharp,” Lester said. “Ball was flat. Anytime I get that many fly balls I know that I’m not where I need to be.”
The addition of Lester and Maddon ramped up the expectations for Chicago after five straight losing seasons. But it was more of the same in their first game.
The biggest difference for the home team was the towering videoboard, part of a major renovation for the iconic neighborhood ballpark. Images of Banks, a Hall of Fame slugger who played for Chicago for 19 seasons and died in January at age 83, covered the famed bleachers.
The Cubs honored Banks with a pregame moment of silence, and his sons Jerry and Joey Banks each threw out a ceremonial first pitch. The club also extended its condolences to the Cardinals for Oscar Taveras, an outfield prospect who died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic last October.
“The ballpark was absolutely electric,” Maddon said. “The pregame was wonderful. Everything was great. We just have to come through with a couple knocks now and then, but we will. I thought it was a really, really — for lack of a better term — a really good night.”
Heyward got the majors’ first hit of the season when he doubled and scored on Holliday’s single in the first. Holliday had another RBI single in the fifth.
It was more than enough for Wainwright, who was slowed by an abdominal injury early in spring training but looked just fine in his fourth opening day start. The 6-foot-7 right-hander made the most of umpire Mike Winters’ wide strike zone, striking out six with no walks.
“He’s fun to watch,” Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said. “There’s just special guys like that, when they get in tough situations, big games they’re able to make the big pitch when they need to.”
Carlos Martinez, who won the fifth starter job in training camp, then worked the seventh for St. Louis. Jordan Walden got three outs before Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side for the save.