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Weaver chased in 5th, 'pen falters in Game 1

Cardinals manage just 2 hits, ground into DP with bases loaded
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

CHICAGO -- An opportunity for the Cardinals to creep closer to the Cubs in the National League Central dissolved within a matter of five pitches on Saturday. The sequence saw a promising offensive opportunity quashed, to which the Cubs channeled the momentum into a two-run inning that sent things in the wrong direction for the Cardinals. They never recovered in a 7-2 loss in Game 1 of their Wrigley Field doubleheader.

The Cubs ambushed Cards starter Luke Weaver for three singles off his first four pitches in the fifth to reclaim a lead that Matt Carpenter had earlier erased with one swing. A sacrifice fly by Kyle Schwarber off reliever Mike Mayers helped the Cubs further capitalize in the frame.

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CHICAGO -- An opportunity for the Cardinals to creep closer to the Cubs in the National League Central dissolved within a matter of five pitches on Saturday. The sequence saw a promising offensive opportunity quashed, to which the Cubs channeled the momentum into a two-run inning that sent things in the wrong direction for the Cardinals. They never recovered in a 7-2 loss in Game 1 of their Wrigley Field doubleheader.

The Cubs ambushed Cards starter Luke Weaver for three singles off his first four pitches in the fifth to reclaim a lead that Matt Carpenter had earlier erased with one swing. A sacrifice fly by Kyle Schwarber off reliever Mike Mayers helped the Cubs further capitalize in the frame.

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"They play with a lot of momentum," Weaver said. "It just kind of started to unravel there a little bit. I felt like I was making some good pitches, but all day there were two hard-hit balls, and the rest of them were just barrels and finding holes."

St. Louis will never know how things may have transpired differently had the club been able to send Weaver out that inning with a lead. Though they had tallied only one hit -- Carpenter's third-inning solo homer -- all afternoon, the Cards had Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood staring at a mess after filling the bases with one out in the top of the fifth.

Video: STL@CHC: Carpenter homers in his 5th straight game

Three-hole hitter Paul DeJong worked the count into his favor at 2-0, prompting the Cubs to convene for a mound visit. On his next pitch, Chatwood induced an inning-ending double play.

Video: STL@CHC: Chatwood converts 1-2-3 double play in 5th

"That's the game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's the game changer. That's the seminal moment. Was I anticipating that? No."

Not only did the Cardinals fail to capitalize on that bases-loaded chance, but they couldn't make anything out of the six walks Chatwood issued over 5 1/3 innings. One day after registering 18 hits, the Cardinals finished the day with two, none of which came in their six chances with a runner in scoring position.

Video: STL@CHC: Ozuna catches fly, nabs Baez at plate for DP

"[DeJong] puts a good swing on a pitch he can do some damage on, hits it hard and Chatwood makes a play," said Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt. "They go back out and [get] a couple of softer hits. Big swing [in momentum]. Big swing."

The Cardinals did claw back with a run in the seventh, but their unstable bullpen once again let a close game unravel late. This time it was Tyler Lyons who was stung, as the Cubs scored four times off the lefty in the seventh inning.

The bullpen has now allowed a run in seven consecutive games and has given up 38 over the last nine games.

Video: STL@CHC: Wong makes diving stop, glove flips for out

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Trailing by two at the time, the Cardinals built a run-scoring opportunity against lefty reliever Justin Wilson in the seventh. Carpenter, who had already become the first Cardinal since 2008 to homer in five consecutive games, stepped in with two on and no outs. He worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Wilson before driving a fastball into wind gusting in from center field. Carpenter had to settle for a 393-foot out, and the Cardinals went on to score just one run in the frame.

Video: STL@CHC: Molina lifts a sac fly to left-center in 7th

"Maybe more of a traditional Wrigley kind of day with the wind," Shildt said. "DeJong crushed that ball to left [in the third inning]. [Outfielder] Schwarber is going back -- I thought it was a courtesy look -- and caught it. I was like, 'Whoa.' Carp hit the ball to right-center, another good swing. It could have been a three-run homer to win the game."

SOUND SMART
With each of his last 11 hits going for extra bases, Carpenter has tied a franchise mark set by Mark McGwire in 2001. McGwire has another record that Carpenter can lust after next, as he's is the only player in Cardinals history to homer in six consecutive games.

HE SAID IT
"It was tough weather conditions to hit the ball out unless your last name is Carpenter." -- Maddon

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
An overturned call helped the Cardinals quash a brewing rally by the Cubs in the third. After a one-out single by Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez was ruled safe at first after laying down a bunt. First-base umpire Ben May indicated that Carpenter's foot had come off the bag. The Cardinals challenged the call, however, and Baez was called out. Weaver walked the next batter before wiggling out of the inning.

Video: STL@CHC: Carpenter keeps foot on bag, call overturned

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.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter, Luke Weaver