ST. LOUIS -- For the first time this season, Cubs closer Brandon Morrow gave up some runs. Manager Joe Maddon could deal with that. What else was problematic on Saturday afternoon? Walks issued by starter Tyler Chatwood, which has unfortunately been a recurring theme.
Morrow served up a game-tying two-run double to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth inning, and Kolten Wong smacked a walk-off, two-run homer in the 10th to spark the Cardinals to an 8-6 victory over the Cubs and Chatwood at Busch Stadium.
With the game tied at 6 in the Cardinals' 10th, Luke Farrell walked Paul DeJong to open the inning, and Wong launched his second homer of the season to right for the game-winner.
"It's really bothersome," Farrell said of the walk. "You can understand giving up a hit in that situation, but you want to attack guys and challenge guys, so a leadoff walk is frustrating."
Morrow felt the same. The Cubs had a 6-4 lead after welcome solo home runs by Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Baez connected with one out in the sixth, while Rizzo hit his third homer in his past four games with one out in the seventh.
But the Cardinals rallied in the ninth. Morrow walked Harrison Bader to start the inning, and one out later, he gave up a single to Jose Martinez to set up Ozuna's double. Morrow had been a perfect 7-for-7 in save situations and had not given up a run in 11 previous outings.
"That's the worst time to [walk someone] is to start an inning," Morrow said. "You give them a little momentum and hope. I was leaving the ball up a little bit and trying to fight it down the whole time. I gave up the soft hit [to Martinez], and the one mistake I made in the zone, [Ozuna] got the double on. I finally got out of it, but too late.
"I had trouble locating my fastball all inning, really," Morrow said. "My arm was a little alive today and I was flying open and I was having trouble getting it down the entire inning."
Maddon wasn't concerned about his closer.
"Any day of the week, eight out of seven days, I'll take Morrow with a two-run lead in the ninth," Maddon said.
The Cubs had not scored more than three runs in any of their past nine games, but they totaled four runs in the second, sending nine batters to the plate against starter Luke Weaver, who now has a career ERA of 12.00 against the Cubs and would most likely prefer to skip this series.
But the Cardinals, playing in front of their largest crowd of the season -- 47,154 -- made the most of walks by Chatwood to tie the game in the fourth. The right-hander is among the National League leaders in walks, and he issued five more, including back-to-back free passes to start both the first and fourth innings.
"I know what it is," Chatwood said of the problem, although he wouldn't go into specifics. "I feel it's an easy correction, but I'm fighting it now. It's just a matter of having it click. I know what it is. I'm kind of fighting it back and forth."
Said Maddon: "I think it's delivery-related. He's pretty tough. I think he needs to find that rhythm. It's a complicated delivery. If you're not all together, you have a hard time finding your release point."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Safe bet: The Cubs loaded the bases in the second against Weaver and took a 1-0 lead on Baez's groundout. Chatwood then bunted and Weaver flipped the ball to catcher Yadier Molina, who tagged Addison Russell at home. Russell was called out, but the Cubs challenged the ruling, saying he had reached around Molina to tag the plate. After a review, the call was overturned, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Benjamin Zobrist and Rizzo each added RBI singles for a 4-0 cushion.
"Addison was adamant on the play," Maddon said. "I didn't know the plate was blocked so much. Normally they don't alter that on a play on the infield regarding blocking the plate. If I had just asked for them to look at that, there's multiple ways for him to be safe. I didn't see that until I'd already made my challenge. I learned a lesson -- slow down and see everything before you ask."
Costly error: Chatwood walked the first two batters in the Cardinals' fourth, then hit Wong to load the bases, and the Cardinals tallied on pinch-hitter Greg Garcia's sacrifice fly. Rizzo fielded Bader's grounder and tried to get the force at second, but Russell couldn't handle the throw for an error, allowing a run to score. Matt Carpenter then doubled to left, driving in two runs to tie the game at 4. Russell's error was the ninth by the Cubs in the last 10 games.
"We're not as good as we can be," Maddon said of the Cubs' defensive efforts. "We hold ourselves to a really high standard defensively, and when we make a mistake, it jumps at you."
Rizzo's homer was his first against the Cardinals since Sept. 14, 2016. He's now hit safely in his past four games and has an RBI in four of his past five.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the St. Louis sixth, left fielder Kyle Schwarber fell running backward to get a fly ball by Carpenter, but he got up in time to catch the ball. Then he raised his arms and pointed to his right shoe, which may have been the reason for the fall. Schwarber took off his shoe and trotted in to get a new pair to finish the inning.
Center fielder Jason Heyward made a much more graceful running catch of Jose Martinez's fly ball to end the sixth.
HE SAID IT
"I'm putting myself in bad situations, and it's hurting the team. There's no reason for that fourth inning to happen there. Just throw the ball over the plate. It's just me beating myself now and the team. I just have to fix that." -- Chatwood
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Cubs won their second challenge of the game in the St. Louis half of the second. The Cardinals had two out and two on when pinch-hitter Bader hit a grounder to Russell at shortstop. He flipped the ball to Baez at second for the force, but Weaver was called safe and the runner at third scored. But the Cubs challenged the ruling, and after a review, it was overturned and the inning was over.
"That was a great play by Addison at second base," Maddon said. "Javy did the right thing, acting as a first baseman."
Jonathan Lester will close the Cubs' series Sunday night. In his last start against the Rockies, Lester did not give up an earned run for the third time in six starts this season. He's 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA in six career starts in St. Louis. First pitch is at 7:08 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium.