Grichuk's 1st walk-off HR closes Central gap

May 24th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- With a walk-off home run by Randal Grichuk, the Cardinals completed a 4-3, come-from-behind win on Monday to carve into the Cubs' lead in the National League Central. The victory, which came in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium, pulled the Cardinals to within six games of the Cubs, the closest they've been since the second day of May.

Grichuk's first career walk-off home run came off reliever Adam Warren, who had retired the first five batters he faced to pull the Cubs to within one strike of extra innings. It also came a half-inning after Chicago advanced the potential go-ahead run to third with one out, but the runner was erased on a double play that helped Trevor Rosenthal out of a jam.

Eventful 9th swings game Cardinals' way

"I feel like that definitely sparked the dugout a little bit more and got us behind the guys," Grichuk said of the highlight that preceded his. "Any time you make a huge play like that ... That's big."

The Cardinals and Cubs have now split their first four games this season.

"I'll absolutely buy into that this is something we're going to take off from," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think it's more [that] we've seen a lot of the different pieces and none of it really come together for an extended period of time yet. We're still playing some pretty good baseball, but nowhere near what we need to or can. Sometimes a little shot like this can be the catalyst. That's what we're hopeful for."

The Cubs held a two-run lead until the seventh, when Matt Adams stung starter John Lackey with a game-tying pinch-hit home run. Up to that point, Lackey had held his former club to three singles and one third-inning run while striking out nine. His dominance was familiar to many in attendance on Monday, too, as each of Lackey's 24 career starts at Busch Stadium have now been quality ones. Of course, 22 of those came for the home team.

Cubs not worried after 3rd straight loss

"They're a good team," Lackey said of the Cardinals. "We have to worry about ourselves. They're kind of irrelevant. If we play our game, we'll be OK."

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright matched Lackey's tempo early, rolling through three innings on 37 pitches. He could not, however, keep that pace. It took Wainwright 71 pitches to cover the next three innings, during which the Cubs scored three times. He allowed a game-tying RBI single to Miguel Montero in the fourth, and Anthony Rizzo extended the lead with a run-scoring single in the next inning.

"I had great stuff tonight," said Wainwright, whose 26 1/3-scoreless innings streak against the Cubs was snapped. "I have to attack a little better than I did a couple of those innings. But my stuff was very sharp. That's going to play well the rest of the season."


Big City blast: With the Cards held to three singles over the first 6 2/3 innings of Lackey's start, Adams knotted the score at 3 with a two-run, pinch-hit blast in the seventh. The home run, Adams' fifth of the season, was the Cardinals' ninth by a pinch-hitter this year, one shy of the franchise record. Adams, 1-for-7 previously against Lackey, improved to 6-for-12 as a pinch-hitter.

"[Lackey] left the one up to Adams, and he didn't miss it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Give [Adams] credit. They've had several pinch-hit home runs this year -- it's something they must practice. They must have a special recipe on pinch-hit homers." More >


Road warrior: Rizzo was 1-for-22 on the road trip prior to Monday's game, and after grounding out in his first two at-bats, he connected on a broken-bat RBI single in the fifth. It was his first RBI since May 15. Last season, Rizzo batted .286 on the road, compared with .269 at Wrigley Field.

"We got hot at the beginning, and now we've gotten cold," Ben Zobrist said of the Cubs. "We've got to find the middle ground and get back to playing good baseball."

Feeling Rosey: A diving catch by third baseman Matt Carpenter helped Rosenthal out of a ninth-inning jam to preserve the tie game. Rosenthal, coming off a 34-pitch outing on Saturday in which he allowed two runs and four hits, surrendered singles to two of the first three Cubs he faced. But with Dexter Fowler looming at third, Carpenter dived for a flare off Rizzo's bat, caught it and stepped on third to complete the inning-ending double play.

"I thought back on it and why the runner would be running from third and not staying back," Rosenthal said. "It was just a weird thing that you don't see too often, almost like the Chris Carpenter play diving into the base [in the 2011 postseason]."

It's the little things: The red-hot Zobrist singled to lead off the Chicago fourth. One out later, Jorge Soler was hit by a pitch and Montero followed with an RBI single to tie the score at 1. Javier Baez bunted, and catcher Yadier Molina fielded the ball cleanly, but no one covered first, so Baez was safe and the bases were loaded. The Cubs went ahead, 2-1, on Addison Russell's fielder's choice.

"It's probably the best [stretch] I've ever had, to be honest," said Zobrist, who has hit safely in 30 of 40 games this season and recorded his fifth three-hit game of the year. "I've had some good stretches where I got a lot of hits, but as far as feeling comfortable, seeing the ball, putting good swings on the ball, this is probably the best it's been for any three-, four-week stretch of time." More >


The Cardinals used their challenge unsuccessfully in the eighth trying to reverse a safe call at first base. Russell was ruled safe to prevent an inning-ending double play, and the call was confirmed following a one-minute, five-second review.


Cubs: Right-hander Jason Hammel is scheduled to start Tuesday night. He picked up the win over the Cardinals on April 19 at Busch Stadium, giving up one run over six innings in a 2-1 victory. He has held batters to a .154 average. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.

Cardinals: Winless in his last five starts, right-hander Michael Wacha will work to get back on track on Tuesday, when he makes his 10th start of the season. Wacha is 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the Cubs.

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