Game One Hundred Sixteen – Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
WP – Blake Parker (1-1) LP – Trevor Rosenthal (1-3, BS 3) Save – Kevin Gregg (25)
The Cubs played one of their best games of the season on Saturday night and battled back from a 4-2 deficit in the eighth inning to beat the Cardinals. The Cubs scored four of their six runs in the final two innings and stunned the Cardinals, who were looking at the weekend series with the Cubs as a way to make up ground on the Pirates in the division race.
The Cubs scored three runs in the eighth on a pair of two-out doubles. Darwin Barney (1-for-5 with a double, two RBI and a run scored) doubled to right center off Trevor Rosenthal, plated Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz and tied the game at four. Dioner Navarro (1-for-1 with a double and a RBI) came off the bench and hit for Blake Parker. Navarro doubled to right and drove in Barney with the go ahead run.
Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a RBI, a walk and a run scored) singled in Junior Lake (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) with a much-needed insurance run in the ninth.
Saturday night was a total team effort. The Cubs pounded out 10 hits and walked seven times. The Cubs have walked 13 times in the first two games of this series to go along with three hit batsmen. And the bullpen limited the Cardinals to a Matt Holliday solo home run over the final three innings.
Welington Castillo (1-for-1 with a home run, a sac fly RBI, two walks, HBP and two runs scored) had another good game at the plate. Castillo drove in the Cubs’ first two runs and was on base for Darwin Barney’s eighth inning double. Castillo hit his fourth home run of the season leading off the second and plated Junior Lake with a sac fly in the fifth. Castillo also threw out David Freese trying to steal second base in the second inning.
Junior Lake reached base three more times, scored two of the Cubs’ six runs and threw out Rob Johnson trying to stretch a single into a double in the seventh inning. Starlin Castro (2-for-5) singled twice and played a good game in the field. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5) managed only one hit in five trips to the plate but his productive out in the ninth made it easier for Schierholtz to drive in Lake from third base with the Cubs’ sixth run.
Carlos Villanueva put together a decent outing but made one big mistake in the fourth inning when he served up a three-run shot to Matt Holliday. Villanueva lasted six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts on 80 pitches, 55 for strikes.
Blake Parker earned his first big league win with a scoreless seventh. Pedro Strop retired all three batters he faced in the eighth and Kevin Gregg picked up his 25th save of the year after surviving the ninth inning.
With Saturday’s surprising come from behind win, the Cubs improved to 52-64 on the season and won a series in St. Louis.
Michael Wacha and Carlos Villanueva retired the first three batters they faced on Saturday night. Wacha struck out one of the three batters on 10 pitches, eight for strikes, in the first while Villanueva struck out two of the three hitters he faced and needed 18 pitches, 13 for strikes, in the opening inning.
Welington Castillo led off the second and looked at two straight out of the zone to start the at bat. Castillo lifted Wacha’s next pitch out to left. The ball ended up just beyond the wall into the bullpen and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead on Castillo’s fourth homer of the season. Schierholtz struck out swinging for the first out. Starlin Castro pulled a 2-2 pitch past Descalso and into left field. Ransom struck out swinging and Barney flied out to right to end the inning. The Cubs made Wacha work, the Cardinals’ young hurler threw 30 pitches 22 for strikes, over the first two innings.
Carlos Villanueva face the minimum in the second thanks to Welington Castillo. Holliday grounded out to third to start the inning. David Freese followed with a single to center. Freese took off for second on a 1-1 pitch to Jay. Jon Jay swung through the pitch and Castillo threw out Freese at second. Villanueva struck out Jay swinging to end the inning. Villanueva threw 27 pitches, 19 for strikes, in two innings.
The Cubs wasted a golden opportunity to tack on in the third inning. After Villanueva popped out to Carpenter in shallow right to start the innings, David DeJesus worked a walk. Junior Lake fell behind 1-2 before working a full count then taking a free pass to first. With runners on first and second with one down, Rizzo rolled a 1-2 pitch toward the hole at second. Carpenter fielded the ball and threw to first for the out.
Welington Castillo stepped in with runners on second and third with two down … and walked to load the bases. Nate Schierholtz popped a 2-1 pitch straight up that landed in Freese’s glove to end the inning. After three at bats, the Cubs were 0-for-2 with RISP and left four men on base. Wacha threw 65 pitches, 39 for strikes, over three innings.
Carlos Villanueva retired the side in order in the third … and after three complete, the Cubs led 1-0.
Starlin Castro led off the fourth and grounded out to short. Cody Ransom blooped Wacha’s first pitch down the right field line. Carlos Beltran lumbered in and tried to make a sliding catch near the line. But Beltran was short, the ball bounced past him and Ransom ended up at third with his first triple since 2009. With the infield in, Darwin Barney put together another poor at bat. Barney popped a 1-2 pitch behind homeplate that Rob Johnson caught near the third base on deck circle. Villanueva looked at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning. Wacha threw 81 pitches, 51 for strikes, over the first four innings … and the Cubs were 0-for-4 with RISP and left five men on base in their first four at bats.
Carlos Villanueva held the Cardinals to one hit the first time through the lineup, but he did not fare as well the second time through. The Cardinals hit Villanueva very hard in the fourth and four batters into the inning, the Cubs found themselves trailing in the game.
Matt Carpenter led off the fourth with a single center. Carlos Beltran blooped a single into center that DeJesus ran in and just missed making an excellent catch. With runners on first and second with no outs, Craig flied out to deep center. Carpenter tagged and went to third.
Matt Holliday smoked a 1-1 pitch into the stands in left field … and just like that the Cubs were down 3-1. Freese tapped back to the mound and Jay hit a laser to Rizzo for the third out. Villanueva threw 50 pitches, 38 for strikes, over his first four innings of work.
The Cubs chipped into the Cardinals 3-1 lead in the fifth. DeJesus lined out to center (2-2 pitch) for the first out. Junior Lake followed with a single to left. Anthony Rizzo singled to right (2-2 pitch). Lake advanced to third with one out.
Welington Castillo lined Wacha’s first pitch to deep left. Lake tagged and scored, 3-2 Cardinals. Nate Schierholtz lined a 3-1 pitch to deep right to end the inning. Michael Wacha threw 99 pitches, 61 for strikes, in five innings of work.
Carlos Villanueva faced the minimum in the fifth after giving up a leadoff single to Rob Johnson. Descalso rapped into a 4-6-3 double play and Wacha grounded out to short to end the inning. Villanueva needed 62 pitches, 46 for strikes, to complete five innings on Saturday night.
Seth Maness faced the minimum in the sixth after Starlin Castro reached on a swinging bunt up the third baseline to start the inning. Ransom grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Barney rolled out to third to end the inning.
The top of the Cardinals’ lineup put another run on the board in the sixth. Matt Carpenter led off the inning with a double to left center. Carlos Beltran ripped a double down the right field line. One of the best baseball fans in the world reached over the barrier and touched the ball. Carpenter scored on Beltran’s ground rule double. Craig grounded out to third (2-2 pitch) for the first out. Villanueva wanted nothing to do with Holliday and walked him on five pitches. David Freese grounded Villanueva’s first pitch right to Castro … 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
At the end of six complete, the Cubs were looking up at a 4-2 score.
The game remained 4-2 Cardinals through the seventh.
Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz walked to start the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal then struck out Castro swinging (0-2 pitch) for the first out. Cody Ransom struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) for the second out.
Trevor Rosenthal jumped ahead of Barney 1-2. Darwin Barney evened the count then drove the flamethrower’s next pitch into the gap in right center. Castillo and Schierholtz scored and tied the game at four on Barney’s 20th double of the season. Dale Sveum went to his bench for Dioner Navarro.
Dioner Navarro pulled a 2-1 pitch into right field. Barney scored as Navarro rumbled around first and slid into second with a double. Travis Wood took over for Navarro at second as Mike Matheny went to his pen for lefty Randy Choate. DeJesus grounded out to short for the third out.
The Cubs took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth and Pedro Strop took over for Blake Parker.
Pedro Strop pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning … and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 5-4.
Michael Blazek took over for the Cardinals in the ninth and Junior Lake greeted him with a double down the left field line. Rizzo grounded out to first (1-2 pitch) but his productive out moved Lake to third with one out. Blazek then hit Welington Castillo and put runners on first and third with one out.
Nate Schierholtz pulled a 1-0 pitch into right. Lake scored and gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead. Castillo advanced to third on the play. Castro struck out swinging for the second out. Cody Ransom worked a walk to load the bases. Barney grounded out to short to end the inning.
Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs up by two runs.
Gregg retired Craig on a pop out to Castro in shallow left. Gregg fell behind Holliday and he made Gregg pay. Matt Holliday drove a 3-1 pitch from Gregg over the wall in right. Holliday’s second homer of the night cut the Cubs lead to 6-5.
David Freese smoked Gregg’s first pitch back up the middle. The ball hit Gregg on his back (right shoulder blade) and went right to Castro. Freese was thrown out at first for the second out. Jay tapped back to Gregg to end the game.
Edwin Jackson faces Joe Kelly in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.