It was thrilling, much needed, and although it came at a cost, the St. Louis Cardinals garnered a hugely critical win against the Chicago Cubs.
St. Louis entered Sunday afternoon already having clinched a playoff spot for the fifth straight season (which is a club record), but were still reeling from two straight losses to the Cubs, were on the verge of getting swept, and were at risk of losing a lot of momentum they had gained in the past week prior.
The starters for the afternoon were Carlos Martinez (13-7, 3.02 ERA) and Jon Lester (10-10, 3.38).
Three-fourths of the runs scored by the Cardinals on Sunday came during the first inning. Tommy Pham put the Cardinals on the board first with a solo home run with one out to make it 1-0. After an infield single by Jason Heyward, rookie Stephen Piscotty blasted a two-run home run to make it 3-0 Cardinals. The young stars in St. Louis were playing good when they needed to once again.
Martinez threw two scoreless innings to get the Cardinals to the third inning still up by the score of 3-0.
A single by Jhonny Peralta scored Matt Carpenter to make it 4-0 St. Louis in the top of the third.
But Chicago was on the comeback trail.
In the bottom of the third inning, with Lester and Dexter Fowler on base, Anthony Rizzo reached on an infield single that scored both of the runners to cut the lead in half. Martinez had himself a decent outing, one needed by a St. Louis starting pitcher after the past two starts weren’t as successful, with his final line of the afternoon being: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks.
But by far, the biggest inning came in the eighth. With Kevin Siegrist on the mound, Chris Coghlan led off with a single, and Rizzo walked. Jonathan Broxton entered and walked Kris Bryant to load the bases. Seth Maness then entered the game, and with Addison Russell at the fly, helped induce a double play thanks to a fly out caught by Heyward, and a powerful throw to home, allowing Yadier Molina to tag out Rizzo.
St. Louis escaped the inning with their lead still intact.
Trevor Rosenthal was able to record the four-out save, as the Cardinals won 4-3. It was their 93rd win of the year, as Martinez improved to 14-7. Meanwhile, with Pittsburgh winning against the Dodgers, the magic number remains at ten, but avoiding the sweep against a division rival is still a big way to end a series.
On Monday, Jaime Garcia will look for his 10th win as the Cardinals face the Reds.
(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)