Game Ninety-One – Cubs 2, Cardinals 3
WP – Joe Kelly (1-3) LP – Carlos Villanueva (2-5) Save – Edward Mujica (26)
The Cubs ended up on the wrong end of a low scoring game at the old ballyard on Friday afternoon and dropped game two of the weekend series to the Cardinals.
Carlos Villanueva settled down after a rough first inning and gave his team a chance to make a comeback. Villanueva surrendered two runs on three hits to the first four batters he faced. Villanueva labored through a 28-pitch first inning due to poor command and pitching from behind in the count. Villanueva was sharp after the opening inning, did not allow another run and retired the last 12 batters he faced. In his second start since returning to the rotation, Villanueva allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Villanueva threw 90 pitches, 60 for strikes, over six innings.
The Cardinals’ third run scored after two were out in the seventh inning off Matt Guerrier. Nate Schierholtz attempted a diving catch on a ball hit by pinch-hitter Rob Johnson in right field. Schierholtz came up short, the ball got past him and Johnson ended up at third with a two-out triple. Matt Carpenter doubled Johnson in with what ended up being the difference in the game.
Pedro Strop, Michael Bowden and James Russell kept the Cardinals from adding on in their final two at bats.
The Cubs’ offense had plenty of chances to put runs on the board against Joe Kelly but managed just one run on a bloop single by Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) in the third inning.
Starlin Castro (2-for-3 with a home run and a HBP) had another good day at the plate. Castro cut the Cardinals lead to 3-2 in the eighth with a solo home run, his sixth of the year. But the offense managed just five hits, three walks and finished the game 1-for-6 with RISP and left six men on base.
With Friday’s loss, the Cubs slipped back to nine games under .500 with a 41-50 record.
Matt Carpenter led off the game with a single to left on a 3-2 pitch. After Jon Jay popped out to left, Carlos Beltran pulled a 0-2 pitch into the right field corner. Carpenter scored on Beltran’s second triple of the season. Dale Sveum brought his infield in and made it easy for Allen Craig to add to his RBI total. Craig singled to center on a 1-1 pitch. Beltran scored, 2-0 Cardinals just four batters into the game. Villanueva struck out Molina swinging before issuing a walk to Matt Adams. With two on and two down, David Freese popped out to right on a 2-2 pitch. Villanueva threw 28 pitches in the first, 18 for strikes.
The Cubs had a chance to chip away at the Cardinals lead in the first. Starlin Castro singled to left with one out. After Rizzo was caught looking for the second out, Alfonso Soriano walked and put two on for Schierholtz. Joe Kelly struck out Schierholtz swinging to end the inning.
The game remained 2-0 Cardinals until the bottom of the third.
Luis Valbuena walked with one out and moved to second when Kelly hit Starlin Castro with a 2-1 pitch. Pete Kozma took away a hit from Anthony Rizzo and forced Castro at second. With runners on the corners and two outs, Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into center. Valbuena scored, 2-1 Cardinals. With runners on first and second, Schierholtz grounded out to second to end the inning.
Carlos Villanueva and Joe Kelly put zeros on the board for the remainder of their outings. Villanueva turned the game over to the pen in the seventh with the Cubs down 2-1.
Matt Guerrier retired Freese and Kozma to start the seventh. Mike Matheny sent Rob Johnson into hit for Randy Choate. Johnson hit a sinking liner into right. Schierholtz dove but came up short. Johnson ended up a third with his first hit of the season. Matt Carpenter ripped a 0-2 pitch into the gap in left center. Bogusevic could not make the catch. Johnson scored, 3-1 Cardinals. Guerrier retired Jay on a grounder to Barney for the third out.
Pedro Strop ended up striking out the side in the eighth and worked around a leadoff double by Carlos Beltran and a one out walk to Yadier Molina without allowing the Redbirds to tack on. The game went to the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs down by two runs.
Starlin Castro led off the eighth with a home run into the basket in left center off lefty Kevin Siegrist. But the Cubs did not manage another hit. Edward Mujica picked up his 26th save after recording three outs on six pitches in the ninth.
Matt Garza is scheduled to face Lance Lynn on Saturday night.