CHICAGO -- Atoning for the error that left the Cardinals precariously close to falling further back in the National League Central than they had been all season, Paul DeJong delivered a ninth-inning, go-ahead RBI double to cap the club's frenetic 6-3 comeback win over the Cubs in the nightcap of
CHICAGO -- Atoning for the error that left the Cardinals precariously close to falling further back in the National League Central than they had been all season, Paul DeJong delivered a ninth-inning, go-ahead RBI double to cap the club's frenetic 6-3 comeback win over the Cubs in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Cardinals, who dropped Game 1, 7-2, avoided the doubleheader sweep by finding renewed offensive life behind a suddenly unstoppable Matt Carpenter. After sitting on the bench for the first five innings, Carpenter entered in a double-switch and promptly homered in his sixth straight game when he came to the plate in the seventh.
"You talk about big hit after big hit after big hit," marveled interim manager Mike Shildt. "That's huge. One swing of the bat, it's 3-2 and now you're a swing away from being tied again. That's a mental lift right there, for sure."
After watching Carpenter become the first player to ever homer six times in a series at Wrigley Field, it was understandable, then, why the Cubs appeared to want no part in facing him to open the ninth inning of a tie game. Carpenter didn't bite on any of the four pitches reliever Justin Wilson threw him outside the strike zone and took a leadoff walk that sparked the game-winning rally.
"It's a tough spot to be in," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "You just try to make as good a pitch as you possibly can. He's got to make an out at some point, you'd think. … We're seeing this guy probably at the best moment of his life as a baseball player."
DeJong, whose sixth-inning error had opened the door for the Cubs to take a 3-1, sixth-inning lead, stung an RBI double to left. Tommy Pham's two-run double added some wiggle room for closer Bud Norris, who, pitching for the first time in a week, notched his 18th save.
"There are always points in the season you look at as a point you look back on and go, 'That kind of got us going,'" Shildt said. "I don't see any reason why that wouldn't be one of those deals. We saw some really quality at-bats."
The Cardinals had raced out to a quick lead behind DeJong's first-inning sacrifice fly, and starter John Gant held it through five scoreless innings. That lead evaporated upon his departure as a ground ball that DeJong should have turned into an inning-ending double play instead did not garner an out. It was DeJong's third error of the series.
The Cubs went on to score three times (one earned run) against reliever Greg Holland before Jordan Hicks ended the inning. Though the Cardinals' bullpen has given up 35 runs (32 earned) in a 10-game span, it did settle enough on Saturday to buy time for the offense. Sam Tuivailala and Norris followed Hicks with scoreless appearances.
"Huge win," Carpenter said. "Such a big win for us to come back the way we did. Pretty much everybody had a piece in it. You can't say enough about it. It's a big win versus a good team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
On an evening when gusting winds were blowing in, Carpenter pushed one out to become the second player in franchise history to homer in six consecutive games. This one, like all three of his home runs on Friday, came off a left-hander, and it pulled the Cardinals to within one run. The home run was Carpenter's eighth this year against the Cubs, the most by a Cardinal in a single season since Jim Edmonds and Jose Pujols hit eight each in '04.
"It's really hard to put into words what is happening," Carpenter said. "I've felt like this before in the sense that I feel comfortable at the plate and I'm swinging at good pitches and my swing feels like it's where it needs to be. Obviously, I've never had a stretch like this. It's hard to put into words." More >
Carpenter added to his list of franchise firsts with home runs in both ends of Saturday's doubleheader. He's the first Cardinals player to homer in six straight games of a single season, as well as the first to have 12 consecutive hits go for extra bases. He's also the only Cardinal to tally eight homers and three doubles in a six-game span.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After making a three-star catch to keep the Cubs' offense from mounting a second-inning rally, left fielder Marcell Ozuna kept the Cardinals' deficit at one with a four-star play in the eighth to rob Kyle Schwarber for a second time. With a runner on first and no out, Ozuna had to cover 41 feet with 3.2 seconds of opportunity time. According to Statcast™, it's a play made 46 percent of the time.
"That's difficult," Ozuna said afterward. "If the ball beats me right there, it's going to cost us. Maybe it's a triple or something like that and costs us the game. I was thinking before that happened that if he hit it down the line -- because I was playing [shaded toward center] -- but if he hits it down the line, I'm going to go for it."
HE SAID IT
"It might be turning into something. The story, really, is Adam Wainwright planted me a garden in my backyard in St. Louis ... and I'm big into salsa, and I've just been making it. I just happened to bring it on the road trip, and it's going pretty well." -- Carpenter, joking about the homemade salsa that's fueled his torrid offensive series
Having skipped the All-Star festivities to return to Florida for the birth of his twins, righty Miles Mikolas rejoined the Cardinals in Chicago this weekend and will start Sunday's series finale. First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT. Mikolas was the lone Cardinals' starter to enter the All-Star break with a double-digit win total and enters this start with a 2.79 season ERA. He'll be opposed by lefty Jose Quintana.
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.