DeJong hits tiebreaking homer as Cardinals beat Cubs 6-4
CHICAGO (AP) — Paul DeJong loves playing at Wrigley Field.
The Friendly Confines have been very friendly to the veteran shortstop.
DeJong, Nolan Gorman and Lars Nootbaar homered, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high third straight win.
DeJong put St. Louis in front when he opened the ninth inning with a drive to left-center off Javier Assad for his third homer this year. Dylan Carlson then tripled and scored on Andrew Knizner’s bloop double into shallow right field.
It was DeJong’s sixth homer in the ninth at Wrigley and No. 14 overall for his career at the ballpark. DeJong grew up in Antioch, Illinois, about 60 miles north of Chicago, and played college ball at Illinois State.
“It’s just fun to be here,” DeJong said. “This is like coming home for me, and it’s like a big rivalry, so everyone is excited to come to Wrigley.”
Chris Stratton (1-0) got four outs for the win, and Giovanny Gallegos worked the ninth for his second save.
The Cardinals had dropped eight in a row and 15 of 18 overall before their win streak.
“We need to get after it,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “The last couple games we have.”
Dansby Swanson and Christopher Morel homered for Chicago in its third consecutive loss. Swanson finished with three hits and three RBIs.
The Cubs went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. They are batting .189 (27 for 143) with runners in scoring position in the last 17 games.
“We left some traffic some out there, but that’ll come and go,” manager David Ross said.
Assad (0-2) pitched five scoreless innings in relief before faltering in the ninth.
“Javy was spectacular,” Ross said. “Kept that ballgame close.”
Chicago trailed 4-3 before Morel connected against Andre Pallante in the sixth, sending a solo shot into the bushes in straightaway center field. It was Morel’s first game of the season after he was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Monday.
St. Louis opened a 4-1 lead with three runs in the third, chasing Jameson Taillon. Nootbaar hit a one-out solo drive that traveled an estimated 431 feet to right-center. With two out and two on, Willson Contreras, Brendan Donovan and Paul DeJong walked to bring home two more runs.
Taillon departed after Donovan’s walk. The right-hander remained winless in five starts in his first season with Chicago.
Swanson responded with a two-run shot in the bottom half, a drive off Jack Flaherty that landed in the basket in right for his third homer of the season.
Flaherty worked out of a bases-loaded jam in his final inning, retiring Seiya Suzuki on a fly ball to the warning track in left in the fifth. The right-hander allowed seven hits and issued five walks.
“You got to make pitches when you need to. I did a better job of that today than I did last time,” said Flaherty, who was tagged for a career-high 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings in his previous start.
The Cardinals made a move in their bullpen, recalling Pallante from Triple-A Memphis and sending left-hander JoJo Romero to their top farm club.
Umpire CB Bucknor did not work the game, replaced by Jordan Baker. Bucknor was shaken up after he was hit by a foul ball Monday night, but he resumed his duties behind the plate after a short break.
Cardinals: 3B Nolan Arenado returned to the starting lineup after he was scratched for the series opener because of neck stiffness. ... OF Tyler O’Neill (lower back tightness) took some pregame swings off a tee.
Cubs: 2B Nico Hoerner had an MRI that showed a mild left hamstring strain. He is day to day after he got hurt running the bases on Monday night. “Obviously any discomfort that you feel on the field isn’t the best,” he said. “But really happy with how we’ve treated it so far and how I’m recovering and stuff.” ... RHPs Kyle Hendricks (shoulder strain) and Codi Heuer (Tommy John recovery) each made a rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa. Hendricks pitched five shutout innings, and Heuer got two outs during his scoreless outing. ... LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) is scheduled for a bullpen session on Wednesday.
Justin Steele (5-0, 1.45 ERA) looks to build on his fast start when he faces fellow left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 3.29 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday night. Steele pitched seven sparkling innings in Chicago’s 4-1 victory over Miami last week. Montgomery is 0-4 with a 3.72 ERA in his last five outings for St. Louis.
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