CHICAGO -- On Friday, the Cardinals scored nine runs in the eighth inning to post a win over the Cubs. On Saturday, the Cubs got some payback, thanks to Jonathan Lester and the return of Kristopher Bryant.A surprise starter after missing a game because of a finger injury, Bryant hit
CHICAGO -- On Friday, the Cardinals scored nine runs in the eighth inning to post a win over the Cubs. On Saturday, the Cubs got some payback, thanks to Jonathan Lester and the return of Kristopher Bryant.
A surprise starter after missing a game because of a finger injury, Bryant hit a game-tying RBI single and scored on Anthony Rizzo's double, both with two outs in the eighth inning, to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
"K.B. being able to play was the difference in today's game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The combination of the hit and his speed -- I don't think anybody else scores on that. ... You can't underestimate the importance of one person in the lineup, and there it was."
For the first seven innings, the focus was on starters Adam Wainwright and Lester to see who would blink first. Wainwright limited Chicago to four hits over 7 2/3 innings, and he was in line for his 15th career win against the Cubs after Paul DeJong and Randal Grichuk homered off Lester in the eighth.
But in the bottom of the frame, Jonathan Jay singled with one out, and one out later, he scored on Benjamin Zobrist's double. Wainwright then exited, and Matt Bowman served up an RBI single to Bryant to tie the game at 2. Rizzo doubled off lefty Brett Cecil to score Bryant.
"Full count, I got a head-start, so that was huge," Bryant said. "Riz hit it. You've got to give him a ton of credit. He worked a great at-bat."
The Cubs won for the seventh time in eight games since the All-Star break, while the Cardinals took their fourth loss in the eighth inning or later in their last nine games.
• Wainwright on point, but win proves elusive
"Those kinds of things always stick with you a little bit," Wainwright said of the Cardinals' recent late-inning losses. "This one hurt a little bit. Right now when we need wins. We're getting ourselves in that situation where we just need that one hit or that one pitch or that one play made, and the other team is making those plays or making those swings."
Lester was perfect for 5 2/3 innings before Wainwright singled with two outs in the sixth on the first pitch he saw. Lester struck out 10, matching his season high, over eight innings, and the Cubs' rally helped him earn the win. The effort was quite a turnaround from Lester's last start at Wrigley on July 9 before the All-Star break, when the left-hander gave up 10 runs over two-thirds of an inning against the Pirates in the shortest outing of his career.
It was an emotional day for Lester, whose uncle passed away on Friday. He wrote "PLACT" on his cap to honor the man, who went to Notre Dame. The acronym is well known to Fighting Irish fans. It stands for "Play Like a Champion Today."
"I wanted to let him know I was thinking of him," Lester said, fighting back tears.
In the eighth, Lester plunked Yadier Molina on the left shoulder with a pitch to open the inning, but he got Luke Voit to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. DeJong launched a 1-2 pitch to left for his 11th homer, and Grichuk hit a 1-0 pitch into the bushes in the center-field backdrop for a 2-0 lead.
"He was hitting spots all game, in and out," DeJong said of Lester. "He didn't give me much to hit. He finally hung a breaking ball there in my third at-bat, and I happened to get it out at Wrigley. I just kind of flicked it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Glovework: Bryant, back in the Cubs' lineup after he missed Friday's game because of a left pinkie finger he sprained Wednesday, singled with one out in the first. One out later, Willson Contreras hit a ball that forced DeJong to run far to his right at short. DeJong grabbed the ball and was able to pivot and throw across his body in time to Voit at first for the inning-ending putout. DeJong tied a career high with seven assists.
"I just tried to get it and get rid of it as quickly as possible," DeJong said of his play to retire Contreras. "You just have to have a good arm and a quick release. Going into it, Waino has good downward movement on his pitches. We just expect to get ground balls. I just happened to be getting a lot."
Close but no cigar: The Cardinals threatened in the ninth. Wade Davis got the first two outs of the inning, but then walked both William Fowler and Jedd Gyorko. Molina fouled the first pitch off, took a ball, then fouled the next two before he struck out swinging. Davis picked up his 19th save in as many chances. The 19 straight saves converted is tied for fifth longest streak in Cubs history.
"When both pitchers are that good, they both deserve a win. But when we get a lead for [Wainwright] like that, we should put it away. Almost every one of these games [since the All-Star break], they were right there for us. And for one thing or another, they got away from us." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
"There's no waiting around right now. Everybody feels the same way. We took advantage of the break. We've come back with renewed energy. You don't want to give up anything now. [The Cardinals] are lamenting the same situation we went through [Friday]. That's how this thing is going to play." -- Maddon, on the close National League Central race
Cardinals: The Cardinals will close out their 10-game road trip with a 7:05 p.m. CT game at Wrigley Field on Sunday. Michael Wacha will be returning to the mound for the first time since completing a 119-pitch shutout against the Mets. Wacha is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his last four starts.
Cubs:Jose Quintana makes his Cubs debut at Wrigley Field on Sunday in the series finale. One week ago, Quintana struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings in his first start since he was acquired from the White Sox.
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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.
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.