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Cubs falter late after Montgomery's solid effort

Lefty allows 1 run over 6 innings before Cards rally vs. 'pen
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs got the quality start they'd been lacking over the last couple of weeks and their offense seemed to have provided them with enough runs to complete a sweep of the Cardinals in Saturday's doubleheader.

Then, the Cubs' strong bullpen finally bent and a late-innings surge from the Cardinals sent Chicago to a 6-3 loss at Wrigley Field.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs got the quality start they'd been lacking over the last couple of weeks and their offense seemed to have provided them with enough runs to complete a sweep of the Cardinals in Saturday's doubleheader.

Then, the Cubs' strong bullpen finally bent and a late-innings surge from the Cardinals sent Chicago to a 6-3 loss at Wrigley Field.

View Full Game Coverage

The Cubs were leading, 3-1, after six solid innings from starter Mike Montgomery when -- as has been the case this entire series -- Matt Carpenter happened. The hottest hitter on the planet got his first at-bat of the game with two outs in the seventh inning and ripped a solo homer off reliever Randy Rosario.

"We're seeing this guy probably at the best moment of his life as a baseball player," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Carpenter, who has hit a home run in six straight games and has hit six homers in the first four games of this series.

Video: STL@CHC: Carpenter homers in 6th straight game

Dominant setup man Pedro Strop faltered in the eighth when Yairo Munoz singled home Tommy Pham to tie the game at 3.

The single came on a grounder up the middle that slipped past second baseman Ben Zobrist, a play that Maddon said Javier Baez "might've been able to make" had he still been in the game.

Both Baez and Maddon were ejected at the end of the fifth when Baez was visibly upset that home plate umpire Will Little did not ask for help on a strike-three call. Little said Baez swung for the third out, and when he didn't appeal to first-base umpire Ted Barrett, Baez threw his bat and helmet.

Video: STL@CHC: Baez, Maddon tossed for arguing with umpire

"I didn't think I said anything to disrespect anyone," Baez said. "It was a pretty close call. I only asked for [Little] to check with the umpire at first. [Little] didn't say anything. I threw my helmet and he threw me out for no reason -- I guess for my helmet [toss].

"My message -- we're not animals. Sometimes we ask, 'Where was the pitch?' or if it was a strike. They want to come at us like we're offending them. I think we can talk the things out. If you disrespect somebody, then you get ejected. I don't think there was anything there to get ejected."

Maddon, too, didn't think Baez did anything that warranted an ejection, which was why he went out and argued, leading to him being tossed as well.

"I told [Little] to kick me out because I was not going to leave under those circumstances," Maddon said. "As an umpire, you have all the right to kick a guy out if he's belligerent, obnoxious, profane, and Javy was none of that."

The Cubs turned to Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek to get through the ninth, both of whom pitched in the first game -- a 7-2 Cubs win. Wilson issued back-to-back walks to open the final frame before Cishek relieved him and gave up Paul DeJong's go-ahead double.

Pham helped pad the Cardinals' lead with a two-run double to right field to make it 6-3.

Video: STL@CHC: DeJong hits a go-ahead RBI double to left

"I was really trying to work a ground ball the whole at-bat [vs. DeJong]. I just didn't finish it," Cishek said. "I actually felt pretty good on my fastball away to Pham. He put a great swing on it. The bottom line is they got it done, I didn't."

It was the 11th loss charged to the Cubs' bullpen this year, which is the fewest in the National League.

Montgomery did his part to keep his team in the game. The left-hander allowed one run on five hits through six innings. It was just the fifth time in the past 22 games that a Cubs starter completed six innings.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rematch: Wilson came in to face Carpenter, who was leading off the ninth in a tie game. The two had faced off in the seventh inning of Saturday's first game, and Wilson got Carpenter to hit a 393-foot fly out with two runners on. This time, Wilson walked the Cardinals' first baseman on four pitches, which started St. Louis' go-ahead rally.

"It's a tough spot to be in," Maddon said of the second Wilson-Carpenter matchup. "You just try to make as good a pitch as you possibly can. He's got to make an out at some point, you'd think. It's almost an impossible spot for him right there."

Video: STL@CHC: Rizzo collects 4 hits in loss to St. Louis

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. ended the top of the fourth inning in style with a tumbling, diving catch to rob Francisco Pena of a hit. According to Statcast™, it was a 4-star catch for Almora, who ran in 52 feet on a ball that had a 50 percent catch probability.

Video: STL@CHC: Almora ranges 52 ft. for diving catch

UP NEXT
Jose Quintana starts the finale of this five-game series on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 2.00 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals. Quintana has not fared well at Wrigley Field, posting a 3-2 record and 5.50 ERA in seven games (3.06 on the road). The Cubs are counting on a strong second half from the lefty, who went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA after the break last year. St. Louis will counter with Miles Mikolas. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Mike Montgomery