(BaseballStL) — A free night off may have been just what the Cardinal offense needed, as St. Louis took an early lead on the Cubs Thursday.
In the second inning, Yadier Molina continued his strong hitting campaign with a double off the wall in right. Allen Craig and Peter Bourjos walked to follow, and Mark Ellis stepped in with the bases loaded.
Ellis was 5-for-8 previously against Cubs starter Jason Hammel, and got the start over a recovering Kolten Wong.
Though he didn’t add to his hit total, Ellis’ sharp ground ball to second scored the first run of the inning and left two men on for starter Michael Wacha.
He worked the count full before slapping a ball back up the middle for a two-RBI single, giving himself a three-run cushion.
Matt Carpenter would add to it moments later, ripping the first offering off the wall in left center, scoring Wacha from first.
The young pitcher took the mound protecting a four-run lead, the largest of the series for the Cardinals.
Chicago would cut into the advantage in the fourth, when Anthony Rizzo bunted his way on for the second time, setting up Starlin Castro for a two-run homer.
The Cubs' shortstop took a fastball from Wacha just right of the pole in left field, cutting the lead to 4-2.
Matt Holliday would began a campaign to widen the margin in the sixth, leading off with a gap double. Matt Adams would move him to third, and Molina scored him with a ripped shot down the left field line.
The volley would knock out Hammel, finshing his day with seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Jose Veras would come in with a man on and one out, quickly ending the rally with a double play.
Kevin Siegrist would help the Cubs get a run back, giving up a single sandwiched by two walks before the Cardinals called on Trevor Rosenthal with the bases loaded. A sac fly scored one run, but Rosenthal got out of the inning despite walking one and being behind every batter he faced 1-0.
The ninth would go smoothly, as he mowed down the Cubs in order for a 5-3 win.