ST. LOUIS - With the threat of a sweep at the hands of their biggest rivals the Cardinal offense sparked into life led by a two-run home run by Matt Holliday while surviving a 3:21 rain delay to beat the Cubs 5-3.
St. Louis failed to crack John Lackey and Jason Hammel in the first two games of the series, scoring only one run in those 18 innings. But the lineup found success early against Kyle Hendrickss with Holliday’s homer in the first and a couple of rag tag plays in the second.
But before the Redbirds got to the plate Randal Grichuk may have saved the day with his glove. After Jason Heyward earned his first hit of the series, Anthony Rizzo dug into the box with two out and drove a ball to left center field. Grichuk tracked the ball to the Hall of Fame sign and leaped over the top of the wall pulling back Rizzo’s would-be homer.
“I kind of knew once I came down and took a step that it was in the glove,” Grichuk said. “It wasn't too far over. I wasn't quite under it. I was surprised I got to it.”
A grateful Carlos Martinez said he plans to take Grichuk out for a nice dinner when the team gets to San Diego. However, Rizzo wouldn’t be denied however and scorched a ball into the right field stands. In the 8th Grichuk earned a free pass where the culprit met with the man he robbed and the two exchanged a couple of laughs.
“He told me he holds grudges and I told him he got the next one so it was okay,” said the Cardinal center fielder.
Grichuk’s superb play did give the club some extra momentum that transferred to the Cardinals side of the first.
“That could have sent things in a different direction,” Mike Matheny said. “Randal is just athletic. He made a great play to keep us in a positive roll there. It gave our offense a chance to get rolling without working with a deficit first.”
With one out Stephen Piscotty stroked his third double of the year and came in to score on Holliday’s fourth round-tripper.
The offense continued to roll in the second when Yadier Molina led off with another double and advanced on a single from Kolten Wong. A pitch later and Hendrick threw one that scooted away from Miguel Montero and allowed Molina to score. The Redbirds weren’t done running as Wong took off from third when Aledmys Diaz struck out putting him in the perfect position to score on a Martinez single.
The score would remain the same until the middle of the seventh when the heavens opened and relentlessly poured rain down and sent Busch Stadium into a lengthy delay. The pause in action ended Martinez’s afternoon at seven innings pitched yielding three hits and one run while fanning five. It was an outing that was impressive to his manager who said the 24-year-old pitcher is developing feel for the game more so than just relying solely on his power.
"Carlos was good. Late in the game he starts to just make up pitches, taking a little more off and more movement on,” Matheny said.
Matheny said there was never a doubt in his mind that the two teams wouldn’t finish the game and finally at 6 p.m. in St. Louis both teams took to the field once more.
“There were a couple of time we got the guys together thinking we were going to go out and it looked like the radar closed up on us,” the Redbird skipper said. “They did a good job of trying to stay on top of whatever they need to do physically to get ready as soon as we give them that 30 minute notice.”
Matheny called upon Seung Hwan Oh to relieve Martinez and trouble began to brew.
Oh had problems locating his pitching missing high often and gave up a single to Dexter Fowler, walked Heyward, allowed an RBI single to Rizzo and then a slower roller from Kris Bryant turned into a fielder’s choice and all of a sudden the Cubs were within one run. But Oh kept Chicago from tying the game.
After his walk in the eighth Grichuk was able to pick up second on a wild pitch from Adam Warren and came around to score an insurance run on a Molina single.
That was all closer Trevor Rosenthal needed as he did his best fire-breathing dragon impression and threw 12 consecutive heaters and one final change-up to strike out the side.
The win moves the Cards to 8-7 while handing the Cubs only their fourth loss on the young season. The Cardinals are off Thursday and travel to California for a three game series against the Padres.