Carpenter drives in three to lift Cardinals over Cubs
Peralta, Craig deliver on offense to snap out of slump at the plate
ST. LOUIS -- Sometimes a win is more than just a positive tally on a team's win-loss record, and the Cardinals may have experienced such a thing on Sunday.
In dispatching the Cubs, 6-4, before an announced crowd of 44,135 at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals not only survived a rain delay, won the series and took some momentum into a long road trip, but two sluggers who started the season in prolonged slumps showed signs of breaking out.
Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta combined to go 3-for-7, reached base four times and scored three of the team's runs. Craig and Peralta entered the game a combined 6-for-70 to start the season.
Peralta matched his season hit total entering the contest by going 2-for-4 after getting the day off Saturday.
"He's not a guy that gets too worked up, but you could tell it was getting to him just like it does with everybody sooner or later," manager Mike Matheny said. "And he just wanted to come in here and have an impact with his bat. He had a couple good at-bats today in big situations; we needed it. You can tell when he gets going, it's going to be a fun bottom of the lineup to watch."
Matt Carpenter benefited the most from Craig and Peralta's resurgence, driving in three and scoring the team's other run from his leadoff spot.
"Finding a way to get those runs in when you get up there in those situations, just trying to put a good at-bat together," Carpenter said. "So it felt good to get it done."
Though Cardinals starter Michael Wacha gave up more runs after the first three batters he faced Sunday than in his two previous starts combined, the rookie settled in and pitched 6 1/3 strong innings. He was lifted with Mike Olt on second and one out in the seventh, in favor of Kevin Siegrist, who ended the threat by striking out Darwin Barney and getting Emilio Bonifacio to fly to center.
Siegrist pitched a clean eighth, before giving way to Trevor Rosenthal. For the third time this week, Rosenthal had a rocky outing, giving up a run, before closing the door.
"Everything feels good at this point, just trying to find a good mix and see what's working and keep working with Yadi [Molina]," Rosenthal said. "He has a good idea of what looks good and so you just trust in him."
The Cubs jumped on top after Anthony Rizzo blasted the first pitch he saw into the Cardinals' bullpen in the first inning. The 384-foot shot, Rizzo's second home run of the season, also scored Justin Ruggiano to make it 2-0.
It was the first home run allowed by Wacha this season. He had only given up one run in his previous two starts.
"I elevated a fastball and you can't do that with those types of guys," Wacha said.
The Cardinals capitalized on Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson's early control struggles in the second. Jackson walked Craig and went 3-1 on Peralta before surrendering a single. A Carpenter single scored Craig and Peralta. Carpenter then stole second and scored on a Kolten Wong single to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
Jackson needed 56 pitches to get through the first two innings. Just 34 of those were strikes.
After a 46-minute rain delay, the Cubs tied it in the fourth when Welington Castillo's single scored Junior Lake.
Peter Bourjos' speed helped break the tie in the bottom of the fourth. Bourjos legged out a triple on a ball hit into the right-field corner and scored on a shallow fly ball off of Carpenter's bat. Bourjos was able to slide around Castillo's tag after Lake's throw went to the third-base side of the plate.
"I know if I just put a decent swing on the ball, get some kind of fly ball to the outfield, whether it's deep or not, I have a good chance to get him in," Carpenter said. "That's no disrespect to other guys on our team, but even if I was at third on that ball, I don't know if I possibly tag on that. But with Bourjos over there, I felt pretty good about our chances. He's a weapon on the bases."
"Not many people are going to score on that ball," Matheny said. "It was a nice at-bat by 'Carp' to be able to give him something to work with knowing that we were going to take a shot with the way that he runs. They made a pretty good throw, just up the line a little bit, but there's not many guys you're going to see score on that as easily as he did."
The rain delay, which started after Molina singled to begin the bottom of the third, seemed to help Jackson, who fell to 0-1. Once the game resumed, Jackson needed just 58 pitches to get through the next four innings.
The delay allowed Wacha, who improved to 2-0, to settle in as well. The righty gave up just one more run after the rocky start.
"I was able to settle down a little bit," Wacha said. "I had some quick innings there and was to get some quick outs, which I needed. Our offense came through and picked me up in big-time ways. Whenever I'd give up the lead, we'd come back and score and it ended up being a pretty good day."
The Cardinals in the eighth tacked on two runs, which ended up being needed after Rosenthal's rocky appearance. Molina and Craig started the rally with singles, Peralta doubled home Molina and Craig scored when Olt couldn't handle a Bourjos smash to third base, making it 6-3 Cardinals.
The Cardinals offense, which has sputtered in the early part of 2014, has now scored 16 runs in the last two days. The team hopes the bats will travel as it takes off on an 11-day road trip through Milwaukee, New York and Washington.
"You kind of feel the offense start to click a little better," Matheny said. "You keep our pitching going and you get that offense going and we're going to have a good trip."