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Under scrutiny, bats rise to occasion vs. Cubs

DeJong, Molina lead 12-hit attack in 1st 5 innings; Weaver, 'pen stingy
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

 ST. LOUIS -- After detailing the nine transactions the Cardinals made before opening a seven-game homestand, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made the sort of statement meant to put a team on notice: More moves, he warned, are coming.

Now that the bullpen overhaul is already underway, the Cardinals' attention will be heavily focused on the position player side as they seek to knead this roster into one that sets the organization up to rebound next season. Aware that evaluations are ongoing and differing directions are being discussed, the Cardinals' offense flaunted its potential depth in a 5-2 win over the Cubs at Busch Stadium on Friday night.

View Full Game Coverage

 ST. LOUIS -- After detailing the nine transactions the Cardinals made before opening a seven-game homestand, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made the sort of statement meant to put a team on notice: More moves, he warned, are coming.

Now that the bullpen overhaul is already underway, the Cardinals' attention will be heavily focused on the position player side as they seek to knead this roster into one that sets the organization up to rebound next season. Aware that evaluations are ongoing and differing directions are being discussed, the Cardinals' offense flaunted its potential depth in a 5-2 win over the Cubs at Busch Stadium on Friday night.

View Full Game Coverage

"Whatever the moves they make, they'll be supportive of, but I feel like we definitely have enough here," interim manager Mike Shildt said of the offense. "When you look at our team, look at our lineup, they're starting to be stretched out now. Guys are taking good at-bats. We're rolling the innings over, the lineup over. I think there's no question at all that we have enough offense to continue to move forward and push this thing."

Video: CHC@STL: Shildt on Weaver, solid win over the Cubs

The potential hasn't been in question. It's execution that has been fleeting.

That wasn't the case on Friday, however, as the Cardinals pushed back above the .500 mark in a game where everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once. The Cardinals peppered Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery for 12 hits over five innings and delivered the knockout punch with a three-run fourth in which all the runs were scored with two out.

Video: CHC@STL: Martinez's laces an RBI single to right

"I think there's got to be a little bit of anxiousness as far as wanting to go out there and perform well," said Paul DeJong, who reached base safely a career-high four times. "Maybe it'll push the guys in here to play a little bit better and [be] more focused, and prove that we belong here and that we should win here." 

DeJong and Yadier Molina -- now the club's two- and three-hole hitters under Shildt -- led the way. Both tallied three-hit games. Molina scored twice; DeJong drove in three.

In the 10 games since Shildt nudged the two toward the top of the lineup, Molina and DeJong are hitting a combined .320 with 10 extra-base hits, 12 runs scored and 12 RBIs.

Video: CHC@STL: DeJong, Shildt discuss winning series opener

"I've liked it quite a bit," Shildt said. "They seem comfortable there. You try to get your better hitters up as much as possible, and [they're] clearly one of those."

The tweaks haven't stopped, either. Marcell Ozuna fit in a different spot Friday, too, as he hit outside the cleanup spot for just the second time this season. He singled twice.

In jumping on Montgomery early, the Cardinals provided a cushion for starter Luke Weaver, who entered the night 0-3 with a 10.89 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs. He picked up his first home win of the season by limiting Chicago to a pair of solo home runs over six innings.

Video: CHC@STL: Weaver strikes out 5 across 6 frames

Behind him, a bullpen that was retooled earlier in the day leaned on three not-so-new arms. Mike Mayers, Jordan Hicks and Bud Norris combined to retire all nine batters faced.

"It felt good, especially right now," Weaver said of the win. "We just needed a big win to build some momentum for the rest of the series. But personally, that was a good outing to build off of."

Video: CHC@STL: Norris earns his 20th save of the season

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Cardinals nearly ran themselves out of a run-scoring opportunity in the fourth when, with runners on the corners and no outs, Dexter Fowler was thrown out trying to score on a safety squeeze.

Video: CHC@STL: Montgomery dives, tosses underhand for out

But after Montgomery retired Matt Carpenter, Molina and DeJong stung the lefty for consecutive RBI hits to push the Cardinals ahead, 5-1. DeJong entered the day batting .136 with two outs and a runner in scoring position, while Molina had a .205 average in such spots.

"I think Yadi goes up there and he always seems to have a good at-bat," DeJong said. "He either sees pitches or gets on base, so there's always good things coming out of him. He's been doing a great job ahead of me."

Video: CHC@STL: DeJong knocks a 2-run single to center

SOUND SMART
With his 1,820th game played for the Cardinals on Friday, Molina moved into a fourth-place tie with Enos Slaughter on the franchise's all-time list. Next up for Molina to catch is Ozzie Smith, who played in 1,990 over 15 seasons in St. Louis.

Video: CHC@STL: Molina lines a 2-out RBI double in the 4th

HE SAID IT
"I still believe that this team has talent. But I do feel we have to sort through this roster to get it to where we feel it's getting back to that playoff caliber." -- Mozeliak

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Former teammates Fowler and Anthony Rizzo couldn't help but crack smiles after Fowler threw Rizzo out trying to stretch a single into a two-base hit with one out in the fifth. The Cubs did challenge the play, but the out call stood following a 91-second replay review. It was the second assist of the year for the Cardinals' right fielder.

"He got lucky," Rizzo said.

Video: CHC@STL: Fowler cuts down Rizzo at second

UP NEXT
Miles Mikolas will make a second straight start against the Cubs when he takes the mound against lefty Jose Quintana on Saturday. First pitch from Busch Stadium is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT. Mikolas allowed two runs over five innings before being removed for a pinch-hitter last Sunday.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, Luke Weaver