CHICAGO -- Rookie Ian Happ hit a pair of home runs and knocked in four and pinch-hitter Jonathan Jay drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the seventh Sunday to lift the Cubs to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals and complete a sweep of the three-game
CHICAGO -- Rookie Ian Happ hit a pair of home runs and knocked in four and pinch-hitter Jonathan Jay drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the seventh Sunday to lift the Cubs to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals and complete a sweep of the three-game series against their division rivals.
The Cubs were able to score the go-ahead run thanks to heads-up baserunning by Jason Heyward, who also made a stellar catch in the first inning. The solid play over the last three games may have been sparked by a team meeting before the Cubs' game in San Diego on Wednesday. It wasn't another session like the get-together during the rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series, but it was a chance to get a read on the Cubs' heartbeat.
"We all want each other to do well," Heyward said. "We want to make something happen for each other. Just checking in, hearing how we're doing, hearing what we think about this, what we think about that."
"It was good stuff," Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks said of the players-only meeting. "It was just getting back to focusing on what we do inside the clubhouse, focusing on the guys and playing the game."
On Sunday, Happ provided the power. Before the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon backed the rookie, saying he was going to get hot again. Happ did just that, recording his first two-homer game. Happ hit a solo shot in the third that stayed just fair, and a three-run homer in the fourth. The Cubs' first-round pick the 2015 Draft, Happ had hit two home runs in his first three big league games, but was batting .114 in his last 11 games with one extra-base hit prior to Sunday.
"I haven't barreled a ball in a while, so it was good to feel that," Happ said.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha served up both of Happ's homers and was lifted after 4 1/3 innings. The Cardinals also forced an early exit for Hendricks, who gave up Stephen Piscotty's three-run homer and an RBI single by Paul DeJong in the fourth inning.
"I felt really good with everything I had," said Wacha, who hadn't pitched past the fourth inning in either of his two last outings. "Just didn't make the pitches whenever I needed to tonight."
The Cubs opened a 6-4 lead but the Cardinals tied the game in the sixth on a run-scoring groundout by DeJong and an RBI double by Aledmys Diaz against Hector Rondon.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Teamwork: With the game tied at 6 and one out in the Cubs' seventh against the Cardinals' Matt Bowman, Anthony Rizzo singled, and one out later, moved up on Heyward's single. Jay lined a single to left-center to drive in Rizzo, who scored while Heyward was being chased between second and third. Heyward was tagged out in the rundown.
"[Heyward] had the awareness to stop and get in a rundown so Rizzo could score," Maddon said.
Jay has become Mr. Clutch for the Cubs.
"Jon Jay is just a valuable baseball player," Maddon said. "You can pop him in here, and it's like instant offense. He's almost like a really good sixth man in basketball."
"It's a pro at-bat against a guy who has good stuff," Heyward said of Jay. "For [Rizzo] to get on base and keep the line moving, that's what we need to do as a team. A little here, a little knock here, little knock there, run the bases well, it goes a long way."
Start me up: Hendricks faced the minimum over the first three innings but walked the first two batters in the St. Louis fourth to set up Piscotty's home run. Piscotty drove the first pitch he saw from Hendricks into the left-field bleachers to take a 3-1 lead. It was Piscotty's third homer this season and first since April 15. Jedd Gyorko, back from paternity leave, then singled and stole second, and two outs later, he scored on DeJong's single to center. Hendricks threw 43 pitches in the inning, which was his last of the game.
"That was a real good inning for us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "And one of those that we typically would hold on to. But like I said, when things started to go bad they went bad in a hurry."
"That's on me. They've been giving me a lead out there and I've just been serving it right back to them. That's not the way to go about it. Whenever we get a lead, that starter's supposed to go out there and, you know, keep that lead for us. And I haven't been doing that." -- Wacha on his recent outings
Heyward perfectly timed a diving catch to rob Matt Carpenter of a potential extra-base hit in the Cardinals' first. Carpenter tipped his cap in recognition to Heyward. According to Statcast™, there was a 14 percent catch probability. It was a five-star catch, but the Cubs players knew that already, and waited at the dugout for Heyward to come off the field to salute him.
Cardinals: Right-hander Carlos Martinez will get the ball Monday for the Cards' series opener against the Reds. Martinez will be looking to make his eighth straight quality start, fresh off an outing against the Dodgers where he pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win. First pitch from Great American Ball Park is slated for 6:10 p.m. CT on Monday.
Cubs:Eddie Butler will open the Cubs' three-game series against the Marlins on Monday. The right-hander is coming off a loss to the Padres in which he gave up six runs over 4 1/3 innings. First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.
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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.
Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Cardinals on Sunday.