(BaseballStL) — St. Louis would not go quietly, getting two runners aboard in the ninth.
With two outs, Jhonny Peralta singled, followed by Molina’s base hit. The second single moved Peralta to third, and Tommy Pham came in to pinch run for the catcher. Oscar Taveras came to the plate with a chance to tie the game or take the lead, but grounded out to second to close the game.
The Birds dropped two of three, but with a Pirates loss in Atlanta, the magic number is now three.
Another run for Chicago
The Cardinals surrendered another run in the eighth, when Carlos Martinez allowed back-to-back hits with two outs.
Randy Choate came in to get Valbuena on a ground out, then handed things over to Martinez for the final two.
The flamethrower got Castillo to look at strike three, but gave up a double to pinch hitter Ryan Kalish. Chris Valaika pinch hit behind him, singling to left to give the Cubs a three-run advantage.
Martinez got the final out on a pop up from Alcantara, but the damage was done.
Lackey is chased
St. Louis went to the bullpen in the seventh, replacing John Lackey with two outs.
After a line out to the mound, a single and a fly ball to center, Mike Matheny went with Sam Freeman to face the lefty Anthony Rizzo.
Freeman walked him, putting two on and the Cardinals in a tough spot once again.
Matheny went to his most dependable arm in the pen, calling on Seth Maness to neutralize the threat. The sinker pitcher was tasked with getting Soler, and did so by inducing a grounder to third to end the frame.
The Cardinals began a rally in the fifth, with back-to-back singles from Yadier Molina and Oscar Taveras.
Peter Bourjos hit a grounder to second next, resulting in a force out of Taveras and leaving men at the corners for John Lackey.
On a 1-1 count, Bourjos took off as Lackey tried to bunt. The throw from Castillo was offline and bounced into center, scoring Molina.
Lackey went down on strikes next, leaving it up to Carpenter with two outs.
The leadoff man grounded out softly to the right side, ending the inning.
After three uneventful innings, the Cubs got on the board in the fourth.
Lackey surrendered a leadoff double to Luis Valbuena, this third baseman’s 33rd of the season. Two strikeouts followed, leaving the Cubs with their backs against the wall and Logan Watkins up. The Cardinals opted to walk him to get to Jake Arrieta, leaving things up to the pitcher with two outs.
The Chicago hurler helped his cause, however, tripling to send up Valbuena and Watkins for a 2-0 lead.
Lackey got Coghlan to line out, closing the inning.
A tough first
John Lackey got himself in a spot of trouble in the first inning, allowing a leadoff single to Chris Coghlan to begin the game.
He rebounded to strike out Javier Baez, and when Anthony Rizzo grounded to short, it appeared Lackey would be out of the inning.
Kolten Wong lost the ball on a tough exchange, sparing Rizzo and extending the inning. Twin walks to Jorge Soler and Luis Valbuena loaded the bases and brought a mound visit.
Lackey settled, getting Welington Castillo to pop out to right and strand three runners.