ST. LOUIS -- The intrigue wasn't over, as many may have expected, when the Cubs handed their starter, Jake Arrieta, a five-run second-inning lead. But despite their ambitious comeback against a pitcher who hasn't lost in 10 months, the Cardinals fell short of flipping the results on Wednesday afternoon. Instead,
ST. LOUIS -- The intrigue wasn't over, as many may have expected, when the Cubs handed their starter, Jake Arrieta, a five-run second-inning lead. But despite their ambitious comeback against a pitcher who hasn't lost in 10 months, the Cardinals fell short of flipping the results on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, Chicago escaped Busch Stadium with a 9-8 victory and second series win over its rivals this season.
The Cubs also extended their regular-season winning streak behind Arrieta to 23 games, tying a Major League record set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen.
"We've been pitching so well and not hitting, so it was nice for the offense to pick up the pitching for a change," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
For the second straight game, the Cubs deflated the home crowd quickly with a six-run inning. This one came in the second, as Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez labored through a 38-pitch frame in which Chicago sent 11 batters to the plate. Jason Heyward drove in a pair with a two-out double and Ben Zobrist capped the inning with a two-run single.
Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a three-hit afternoon. He was a nuisance to the Cardinals all series, as he reached base 10 times over the three days.
"I think he's at the top of his game now," Maddon said of Zobrist.
The Cardinals methodically crept back, however. Arrieta served up a homer to Randal Grichuk and another two runs in the fourth before being pulled after a season-low five innings. It marked the first time in his last 30 starts that Arrieta had given up four runs.
"I think it shows the heart of the club, especially getting down that big on back-to-back days," Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams said. "After that one big inning, Carlos settled in and made some big pitches, and we kept chipping away. There's definitely some positives we can take out of today's game. We just have to build on it."
The two teams traded three-run blasts in the sixth inning -- Kris Bryant off Seung Hwan Oh, Matt Holliday against Adam Warren. And another home run, this by Adams, pulled the Cards to within one in the seventhSt. Louis continued its push in the ninth with consecutive singles to open the inning off Cubs closer Hector Rondon. A pair of strikeouts and groundout ended that final threat.
"To get back into that game and to fight like that and to get it within striking distance and a chance to win it in the ninth, that's a great effort," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The only frustration is feeling like you had it or that you were going to get it and not finishing it off. That's the frustration. To get there, there had to be some extraordinary things that happened, and they did."
Said Maddon of the Cardinals: "They don't quit. That's why they win championships."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Road warrior:Addison Russell and pinch-hitter Matt Szczur each singled to open the Chicago sixth, and both scored two outs later on Bryant's 10th home run. Bryant didn't hit his 10th last season until June 22. The slugger also now has six road homers, and four have come on this trip. He's now tied with Anthony Rizzo for the team lead in RBIs with 35. Rizzo must miss home cooking. He went 3-for-35 on the nine-game trip.
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"It's all coincidence," Bryant said of his home vs. road numbers. "I don't have an answer for that. Maybe I'm getting used to this stadium and all the others." More >
So close: After chipping away against Arrieta, the Cardinals had an opportunity to finish the comeback and potentially knock the right-hander out in the fifth. Arrieta loaded the bases by hitting Yadier Molina on the elbow, though the Cubs (unsuccessfully) contested that Molina leaned into the pitch. It became a moot point five pitches later when third baseman Bryant snared Grichuk's grounder down the third-base line and threw to second for the inning-ending forceout. Grichuk, who had already tallied a pair of RBI hits, was inches away from tying the game with another.
"He might have looked like he leaned in, but the ball was pretty close to in the right-handed batter's box," Arrieta said. "I'm doing the same thing in that situation. It's a heads up move by him. Even if he didn't put his elbow out, it might have hit him anyways. It was a ball that spun out of my hand, and I just wasn't able to finish the pitch."
It became a moot point five pitches later when third baseman Tommy La Stella snared Grichuk's grounder down the third-base line and threw to second for the inning-ending forceout. Grichuk, who had already tallied a pair of RBI hits, was inches away from tying the game with another.
"I think any time you come close and you feel like you had opportunities and you didn't, it's frustrating," said Grichuk, who has driven in a run in four straight games. "We're just going up there and trying to put together good quality at-bats."
Deja vu: On Tuesday, the Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run first en route to a 12-3 win. On Wednesday, they waited until the second inning and sent 11 men to the plate, and again, scored six runs. Russell and Dexter Fowler each hit RBI singles, Heyward hit a two-run double and Zobrist hit a two-run single. For Zobrist, it was his second hit of the inning, and he now has reached safely in 31 straight starts.
"We needed each and every run we scored today," Arrieta said.
Uh-Oh: Cardinals reliever Oh had his string of nine scoreless appearances snapped when Bryant tattooed a slider 411 feet into the left-field seats. The blast turned a two-run Chicago lead into a five-run cushion. That mattered, too, as Holliday crushed a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning. Oh, a rookie reliever out of South Korea, had not previously been homered upon in 24 1/3 innings.
"He's had a great start," Matheny said. "You're going to have some things that don't always bounce your way. But he's a guy that we are going to continue to use in big situations to get us out. "
"In that situation, with momentum in their favor, that's a good time to punch them in the mouth. I got a good pitch to hit and just missed it. That's all."
-- Wong, on swinging at Arrieta's 3-0 pitch with two on in the fourth. Wong popped it out to left to end the inning
"We realize that it's impossible for Jake to go out there and throw up zeros every time. We realize that and I think he does, too. I think the Cardinals really battle us. They never give up, and it makes for fun baseball." -- Bryant
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Arrieta, the first time a team has scored a run in the first against the right-hander since the Royals did so on May 29, 2015. That also was the last time Arrieta gave up runs in the first and second innings, which he did on Wednesday. Arrieta lost that game vs. the Royals, 8-4.
The Cardinals were the first team to score four runs against Arrieta since the Indians did so last June 16. That snapped a streak of 30 consecutive starts of three earned runs or fewer for Arrieta that was the longest in Major League history.
Cubs: After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs open a three-game series against the Phillies on Friday behind Jon Lester, who's coming off his shortest outing of the season when he lasted 2 2/3 innings against the Giants. Lester is 4-0 with a 1.76 ERA in six career starts against the Phillies. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.
Cardinals: The Cards will kick off a seven-game road trip on Thursday, with the start of a four-game series in Washington. Mike Leake, who has won three straight and allowed just two runs over his last 21 innings, will draw the start against right-hander Joe Ross. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 CT.
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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.