ST. LOUIS -- On Saturday, Kolten Wong hit a walk-off homer to lead the Cardinals over the Cubs. On Sunday night -- actually early Monday morning -- it was William Fowler's turn against his former teammates, who are having a tough time getting the offense in gear.Fowler launched his first
ST. LOUIS -- On Saturday, Kolten Wong hit a walk-off homer to lead the Cardinals over the Cubs. On Sunday night -- actually early Monday morning -- it was William Fowler's turn against his former teammates, who are having a tough time getting the offense in gear.
Fowler launched his first career walk-off homer with two out in the 14th inning to lift the Cardinals to a 4-3 victory and hand the Cubs their fifth straight loss.
The Cubs thought they had this game secured a half-inning earlier after Javier Baez smacked a solo homer with two out to take a 3-2 lead. It was his ninth homer of the year and boosted his RBI total to 29, tied for tops in the National League.
Luke Farrell struck out the first two batters in the 14th, but Harrison Bader reached on an infield single that Baez fielded deep in the hole at short, but his throw sailed high, just out of the reach of first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
"He almost made a fabulous play to end the game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. "It just indicates the laser-thin line between winning and losing."
Fowler's game-winner, off a 2-2 pitch from Farrell, sailed just out of reach of Jason Heyward at the wall in the right-field corner.
"I leaked a fastball back there, and he put a good swing on it," Farrell said. "I had a couple opportunities to close out the at-bat and didn't do it."
Fowler, who snapped an 0-for-11 stretch with the home run, thought Heyward was going to catch it.
"I see J-Hey flying. [I thought,] 'If you catch this, I'm going to cry,'" Fowler said. "Then he jumped, and I thought he caught it. And then I saw. Words can't even explain it."
Said Heyward: "It got over. It got over."
The Cubs now have struggled to score 14 runs during this five-game skid, and they're 4-for-39 with runners in scoring position in that stretch.
"We're not hitting the ball like we can," Maddon said. "We're not scoring any runs. The pitching has been good enough to have a really good streak going, but we've been void of hard contact. It's a lot of softly hit balls on the infield and not driving the baseball, and that's pretty much it. Luke gave up a homer, but we just have to strike the ball with more consistency."
The season began with high expectations about how good the Cubs' offense could be. Does Maddon feel the players are pressing?
"Of course," Maddon said. "Everybody's trying to get it done, and that's what happens in these moments. You've got to ride them out. Right now, it's frustrating to watch."
Kristopher Bryant gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with his fourth home run of the year, leading off the fourth. Chicago had an opportunity in the 12th, but stranded two baserunners and finished the 4-hour, 46-minute marathon 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We're trying," Baez said. "We're still not completely hot. We're going to keep battling and making adjustments. The season is pretty long. I think we just have to make adjustments, step by step."
Chicago starter Jonathan Lester shrugged off two rain delays to last 5 1/3 innings. The lefty was in line for the win, and exited in the sixth with Jedd Gyorko on first. But Wong lined a triple over Heyward, who seemed to lose the ball in the lights as he attempted a sliding catch, to drive in Gyorko and tie the game at 2.
"I didn't help us win the game tonight," Heyward said. "That's on me. Ball should've been caught. We played a lot of baseball after that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leadoff man:Willson Contreras, leading off for the first time this season, singled to start the game, reached third on a throwing error by Gyorko and scored one out later on Rizzo's sacrifice fly. The umpires then called for the tarp because of rain. It was Rizzo's sixth RBI in his last six games.
Rainmaker: Bryant didn't let a little rain slow him down. He led off the fourth with his fourth home run to take a 2-1 lead. Bryant connected on an 1-0 pitch from the Cardinals' Michael Wacha. For Bryant, the homer was his sixth hit in his last 30 at-bats since returning to the lineup after getting hit in the head in Denver. Five of his hits have gone for extra bases, including two home runs.
HE SAID IT
"[The rain delays] were awkward. We're pretty good with the rain. It was a long game, we didn't get any hits, and neither did they. Both sides were out of pitching. We were one pitch away and didn't get it. Nobody feels worse than Luke does. He was one pitch away from getting a save, and it didn't happen. You move on, and that's exactly where I'm at." -- Maddon
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Baez now has hit a home run in the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th innings in his career.
Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs' three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Marlins on Monday night. Hendricks served up four hits over 7 2/3 innings to the Rockies in his last outing but three of those hits were solo home runs. So far, he's 1-2 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts at Wrigley Field, holding batters to a .176 average. He did not get a decision vs. the Marlins March 30 in Miami. First pitch was scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.