CHICAGO -- The Cubs needed Jose Quintana to pitch as long as he could and somehow keep St. Louis' Matt Carpenter from hitting a home run. Their game plan worked, as Kyle Schwarber launched a tie-breaking solo shot in the sixth inning to help power the Cubs to a 7-2
CHICAGO -- The Cubs needed Jose Quintana to pitch as long as he could and somehow keep St. Louis' Matt Carpenter from hitting a home run. Their game plan worked, as Kyle Schwarber launched a tie-breaking solo shot in the sixth inning to help power the Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Willson Contreras drove in two runs with a pair of RBI singles and the Cubs took the five-game series, 3-2. This also was the Cubs' Major League-leading 32nd come-from-behind win.
"It shows the resilience of this team and we're not afraid to be down and fight, scratch or claw our way back into the game," Schwarber said. "That's been our M.O. this season. If we're down, we know we're not out."
The Cubs' relievers were pitching on fumes after Saturday's doubleheader, and the team needed Quintana to go deep. He did just that, throwing 121 pitches to match his career high, which he also did April 13, 2014, against the Indians.
"He got better as the game progressed," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Everything kept getting sharper. It looked like there was more jump on the fastball at the end. We needed him to go more deeply in the game and he did. I saw him getting better per hitter."
The Cubs had given the lefty some extra time over the All-Star break to rest and work on his changeup. He limited the Cardinals to two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out six.
"It was a really big deal for me," said Quintana, who has a 1.89 ERA in his last three starts. "I'm glad that the manager had faith in me in a tight game to go seven innings.
"I felt really strong the whole time. I went out there and tried to pitch as hard as I could. I felt that's what I did, just going pitch by pitch, inning by inning. That's all you can really focus on."
Schwarber didn't get much of a break, as he took part in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby last Monday. He revved up again with two outs in the sixth and the game tied at 2, launching a 2-1 fastball from Mike Mayers into the right-field bleachers for his first home run of the second half and 19th of the season. The Cubs scored 19 runs over 18 innings against the Cardinals' bullpen in the five games.
His home run somehow reached the seats despite a northerly wind.
"I was just happy to sneak it out of here," Schwarber said.
Carpenter, on the other hand, has been on an unreal pace with six home runs in the first four games since the All-Star break. He went 1-for-4 as the Cubs held him to a bunt single.
"That was unbelievable," Schwarber said of Carpenter's series. "The other day he hit the home run [as a pinch-hitter] and I'm out in the outfield just laughing. There's nothing you can do [to stop him]. You just tip your hat. That was an unbelievable display of Babe Ruth. It's a good thing we're not playing more games against him."
Actually, they will. These two teams meet again next weekend at Busch Stadium with the Cardinals leading the season series, 7-6.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Salsa king: Carpenter entered the game having hit a home run in six straight contests, so the Cubs employed a four-man outfield against him to start the game and again in the seventh. In the first, Maddon admitted he goofed and wanted shortstop Addison Russell to play closer to third. Russell was near second and Carpenter bunted toward left for a hit. Yadier Molina then doubled, and Carpenter scored on Paul DeJong's sacrifice fly.
With two outs and two on in the second inning, the Cubs opted to intentionally walk Carpenter to load the bases and have Quintana face Molina. That worked, as Quintana struck Molina out. In the seventh, Carpenter grounded out to second baseman Javier Baez, and he popped up in the ninth.
"I think the bunt single was the best thing that happened," Schwarber said. "For 'Q' to keep him in the ballpark and strike him out and get some weak contact was good."
Chipping in:Kristopher Bryant's RBI totals aren't great, but he's picking up the pace in the second half. The Cubs had a runner at first and one out in the seventh when Anthony Rizzo was hit on the left leg by a pitch by Mayers. Bryant followed with an RBI single for a 4-2 lead. He now has four RBIs in his past four starts. Since returning from the disabled list, Bryant has recorded an RBI in seven of his nine games.
The Cubs may have settled on their leadoff man. Rizzo reached base in 17 of 23 plate appearances in the five-game series for a .739 on-base percentage.
"Riz did a heck of a job this series," Schwarber said. "He got a lot of hits when they mattered. I know he's pumped about it. We want it to keep going for him."
Said Rizzo: "I'm having fun with it."
How much longer does he want to lead off?
"I like it, I enjoy it," Rizzo said. "Honestly, whatever Joe thinks is best, but it seems to be working right now."
Rizzo is the first Cubs leadoff batter to reach safely at least four times in three consecutive games since Brian McRae did so from Aug. 16-18, 1996, and is just the fourth Cubs leadoff batter since 1908 to accomplish the feat.
HE SAID IT
"Wrigley was really loud [Saturday] night, the loudest I've heard in awhile. You've got the doubleheader, passionate Cubs fans, passionate Cardinals fans. It got really loud. It's always fun playing them because the fans are so into it. You play a team five times and you're usually sick of them after the third day, but it's just fun playing them." -- Rizzo, on the five-game series, which drew 204,468 fans
Luke Farrell will make his second start of the season on Monday to open a four-game series against the D-backs. The Cubs needed a spot starter because of Saturday's doubleheader. He's made six starts at Triple-A Iowa this season and one with the Cubs on June 23 against the Reds. In that game, the right-hander gave up three runs over 2 2/3 innings. Farrell has never faced the D-backs in his young career. Arizona will counter with Patrick Corbin, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.