Castillo's three-run HR in 11th wins for Cubs

2014-04-11T23:25:00Z 2014-04-12T08:13:04Z Castillo's three-run HR in 11th wins for CubsBy Rick Hummel 314-340-8196

The Chicago Cubs nearly botched a chance to go ahead in the 11th inning tonight when, with runners at first and third and out, Ryan Kalish squared to bunt. The runner from third was not coming and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina easily made the catch.

But with two out, catcher Welington Castillo rocketed a 426-foot homer to left center and the Cubs had overcome this misadventure to score three runs, enough to secure a 6-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in a game in which there were some strategic moves that turned out badly for both managers.

Rosenthal, for instance, was in the game for a second inning after Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pulled potential pinch hitter Pete Kozma back with two runners on and two out in the 10th.

Rosenthal had had just one at-bat, a strikeout, in his career. He now has two strikeouts in two at-bats as he was caught looking to end the inning. 

The Cubs should have won this game in nine innings but a strange combination of two hit batsmen, a passed ball, a walk, a sacrifice fly  and a hit enabled the Cardinals to score two runs in the ninth. 

Cubs' closer wild in ninth as Cards tie score 

With a save in his grasp, Chicago Cubs closer Jose Veras hit two batters, walked one and allowed the Cardinals to tie the score with two runs in the ninth inning tonight at Busch Stadium. 

Yadier Molina singled to center and Allen Craig was nicked by a pitch in the left arm, according to home plate umpire Gabe Morales. Cubs manaer Rick Renteria challenged but the call was upheld after a brief delay as crew chief Jerry Layne checked with New York video headquarters.

Pinch hitter Jon Jay sacrificed the runners over and then catcher Welington Castillo failed to handle an inside pitch and the passed ball scored Molina, with pinch runner Shane Robinson going to third.

Peter Bourjos, who turned his body toward the ball, was hit in the left leg by a pitch and stole second. Daniel Descalso walked to load the bases before Matt Carpenter lined a sacrifice fly to right to even the count at 3-3.

The Cardinals put their first two runners on in the 10th when Justin Grimm walked both Matt Holliday and Matt Adams. But Molina struck out and Robinson flied out.

Pete Kozma had gone on deck to hit for reliever Trevor Rosenthal but manager Mike Matheny pulled Kozma back, even though he had another position player left in Tony Cruz. Rosenthal, who had one previous at-bat in his career, a strikeout, was called out on strikes and the game went to the 11th. 

Cubs smart, aggressive in taking lead 

The Chicago Cubs, after running themselves out of what could have been a bigger inning in the seventh, played fundamentally sound, and also daring, baseball in the eighth to score twice and go ahead of the Cardinals, 3-1, at Busch Stadium

Justin Ruggiano who was one for the 15 for the season, flared a single to right as a pinch hitter against Carlos Martinez. Emilio Bonifacio sacrificed,with catcher Yadier Molina taking a peek at second, then taking the out at first.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny summoned lefthander Kevin Siegrist to face lefthanded-hitting Luis Valbuena but Cubs manager Rick Renteria countered with righthanded-hitting Mike Olt, who grounded a single to left.

Ruggiano held briefly between second and third, not sure if shortstop Daniel Descalso would get to the ball. He didn't. This was the Cubs' second pinch hit of the inning after they had been one for 18 for the season in that department.

Siegrist, after throwing half a dozen fastballs to lefthanded-hitting Anthony Rizzo, hung a breaking ball which Rizzo lined to right for a sacrifice fly and a Cubs lead as Ruggiano scored.

Nate Schierholtz then singled to left and when left Matt Holliday couldn't control the ball after making a sliding attempt, the ball rolled away. Cubs third-base coach Gary Jones boldly waved Olt home. Olt was safe as Holliday's belated throw got away from Molina and the Cubs had a two-run edge.

The Cardinals threatened to tie or go ahead in the eighth when Pedro Strop walked two men. But Matt Adams lined to right for the final out.   

Cubs tie score as wheels spin  

The managerial wheels were spinning in the top of the seventh inning tonight with the Cubs' Rick Renteria coming up empty and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny making his big move perhaps one batter too late. The Cubs did, however, tie the score at 1-1 with an unearned run.

Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, playing lefthanded-hitting Anthony Rizzo in short right field, fumbled a hard ground ball for an error. Matheny had Carlos Martinez warming up as Nate Shierholtz singled to left center off starter Joe Kelly.  

But Matheny did not bring in Martinez to face Ryan Sweeney, who singled to left to score Rizzo.

Martinez then entered with runners at first and second and nobody out and Starlin Castro at bat.

Renteria eschewed the bunt with one his best hitters at the plate, but, strangely, started his runners when the count went to 2-1. Castro missed the pitch and Schierholtz was out trying to steal third as Sweeney wound up at second. Martinez then retired Castro on a popup and, after an intentional walk to Ryan Kalish, got Welington Castillo to ground out.

Kelly did not allow an earned run but also did not get a decision. 

Kelly blanks Cubs for six 

Cardinals righthander Joe Kelly blanked the Chicago Cubs on four hits for six innings tonight but took a hit in the fifth when Chicago righthander Jeff Samardzija drilled him just above the left elbow. Kelly angrily slammed his bat to the ground and looked out at the Cubs' pitcher as he made his way to first base.

Peter Bourjos had doubled past first baseman Anthony Rizzo with two outs before Kelly was hit. Samardzija and catcher Welington Castillo thought they had Matt Carpenter struck out but the at-bat extended several more pitches before Carpenter flied to center.

The Cardinals maintained a 1-0 lead into the seventh.  

Adams doubles his pleasure  

Matt Adams stroked his fifth double in 10 games when he led off the Cardinals' second tonight at Busch with a two-baser inside the right-field line. Soon, Adams was home after a Jeff Samardzija wild pitch and a Yadier Molina single to right where Chicago's Nate Shierholtz missed on a diving attempt.

In a fortnight in which the Cardinals have not hit with men in scoring territory, Molina is three for three with a runner at third and under two outs. The rest of the club has only three hits in such situations.

The second inning died when scuffling Allen Craig bounced into a double play.

Joe Kelly has a 1-0 lead over the Cubs, whom he beat three times last year.  Kelly has allowed just one hit, Ryan Sweeney's second-inning single, through four innings.

The Cardinals put their leadoff man on in the fourth when Kolten Wong singled. With Wong on the run, Matt Holliday popped to shortstop Starlin Castro, who dropped the ball as Wong retreated toward first base. The ball then rolled toward second base where second basesman Emilio Bonifacio stepped on the bag for the forceout.

Matheny argues, doesn't challenge 

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had a chance to officially challenge a ruling at first base in the first inning tonight. But he chose not to after umpire Mike Estabrook ruled that Matt Carpenter had been out as he tried to dive back to the bag following Kolten Wong's liner to Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro.  

Matheny briefly did argue the call but television replays did not indicate that it was an obvious blown call, if it was even wrong at all. Had Matheny challenged and lost, he wouldn't have a challenge the rest of the night.

The Cubs and Cardinals were scoreless after one inning. 

Adams is fourth, Craig sixth  

Yadier Molina will take a .529 career batting average (nine for 17) against Chicago Cubs righthander Jeff Samardzija tonight, but it will be Matt Adams, two for four against Samardzija, hitting cleanup for the Cardinals.

Normal No. 4 man Allen Craig is back in the lineup after a game off but will hit sixth, ahead of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, likewise struggling. Neither is over .100 with Craig at .097 and Peralta at .069.

"I never want any group of guys who aren't hitting, but you're going to have those," said manager Mike Matheny.

"The thing is that with both of those guys,  nobody is going to take a deep breath. . . they know the danger that both of them have every time they walk into the box. They're one swing away from getting really locked in.

"These aren't flash-in-the-pan guys."

As for who will hit fourth for the foreseeable future, Matheny said the club has "some good options" while Craig searches for his stroke. That list likely would include Molina.  

Infielder Mark Ellis, eligible to come off the disabled list at any time now, has ramped up his workouts, adding sprints and taking infield, besides his hitting. Ellis has been sidelined with patella tendinitis in his left knee.

"We'll push him the next few days and see how his body responds," said Matheny.

Ellis may or may not go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. But Matheny said before any return "he's got to be 100 percent _ where he has no limitations."

Samardzija, the Cubs' ace, is 4-3 in his career against the Cardinals while Cardinals starter Joe Kelly beat the Cubs three times in three decisions last year.

Cardinals lineup

Carpenter 3b

Wong 2b

Holliday lf

Adams 1b

Molina c

Craig rf

Peralta ss

Bourjos cf

Kelly p

Chicago lineup

Bonifacio 2b

Valbuena 3b

Rizzo 1b

Schierholtz rf

Sweeney cf

Castro ss

Kalish lf

Castillo c

Samardzija p

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

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Cardinal Beat

Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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