CHICAGO • Two innings after a ball skipped between his legs and allowed the Cubs to tie the game, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina threaded a hit between two Cubs to win it.
Down to his final strike in the ninth inning, Molina poked a groundball single up the middle and past a diving shortstop Starlin Castro to score two runs and rescue the Cardinals from a game that never should have been that close. Molina’s two-run single off Cubs closer Hector Rondon was the difference in a 5-4 win late Sunday night at Wrigley Field.
On a night when both teams wore throwbacks from the 1920s, Molina’s hit helped the Cardinals avoid any blowback from a three-run lead squandered by errant pitches.
The Cubs had worked to tie the game on a two-out, two-run single by the pitcher and a wild pitch that escaped Molina’s mitt as it dove between his pads. That sent the game into the ninth tied before the Cardinals conjured a test of Rondon. Rookie Randal Grichuk and Mark Ellis, the two instigators for the Cardinals’ first rally of the game, reached base with one out. Ellis pushed Grichuk into scoring position with his third hit of the game. Peter Bourjos struck out but worked Rondon for nine pitches. That tenderized him for a walk from Matt Carpenter to load the bases and then Molina’s two-strike jab up the middle.
Molina’s base hit made a winner of Kevin Siegrist, who struck out the side in the eighth. Closer Trevor Rosenthal allowed a run and faced the winning run at the plate before seizing his eighth save.
Rosenthal got No. 3 hitter Anthony Reyes to ground out to first base to end the game with the tying run in scoring position.
The win was the Cardinals' first of the weekend at Wrigley.
Cubs tie game on Martinez's wild pitch
The breaking ball that could have gotten the Cardinals out of the inning instead squeaked through Yadier Molina's legs.
Carlos Martinez bounced a pitch outside the zone, and Molina was unable to make the butterfly save on the carom off the dirt. The resulting wild pitch allowed Luis Valbuena to score from third base and tie tonight's game, 3-3.
Valbuena's triple off Martinez put the rally in motion.
Martinez struck out Starlin Castro to end the seventh inning and push the tie game into the eighth inning.
The Cubs had slowly chipped away at the Cardinals' early 3-0 lead with a couple runs in the fourth inning. Both of them came on pitcher Jason Hammels' first hit of the season. Hammel struck a two-strike, two-out base hit to right field to score two teammates and bruise Lance Lynn's line.
The starters were both out of the game after six innings.
Lynn allowed the two runs on three hits and struck out five. Hammel allowed three runs on seve hits and struck out five.
The Cardinals did get their first overturned play of the season when manager Mike Matheny challenged a call at first base in the top of the seventh inning. Matt Carpenter appeared to have legged out a single and kept Darwin Barney from making a highlight-reel play that included knocking down a sharply struck grounder. The initial call was Carpenter was out at first, but the replay showed that he had beat Barney's throw.
The rally ended when Yadier Molina hit into his second double play of the game.
Grichuk spurs Cards to 3-0 lead
Two two-out rallies, one spurred by a newcomer to the Cardinals' lineup, as the throwback Cardinals have taken a throwback 3-0 lead on the throwback Cubs.
In the second inning, Randal Grichuk, pants cuffs pulled up to show those 1920s-inspired ring-tail socks, laced a ball that hopped into the naked ivy branches on the Wrigley Field wall. The ball stuck like Velcro, and instead of throwing up his arms and trying for a ground-rule double, center fielder Emilio Bonifacio reached into the ivy snare to loose the ball.
Grichuk didn't slow down. He raced for an RBI triple.
Jhonny Peralta, who keyed the rally with a two-out walk, scored from first on the hit and gave the Cardinals the 1-0 lead and their first run in more than 48 hours. Grichuk then scored on Mark Ellis' double to the left-center gap -- the first of Ellis' two hits in the game.
In the third inning, another two-out walk invited a rally by the Cardinals. Matt Holliday received the walk from Cubs starter Jason Hammel. He took second on a wild pitch, and then Matt Adams scored him with a double to the left-center gap.
Starter Lance Lynn pitched out of a problematic inning in the third. The righty has been prone to the one mushroom-cloud inning per start and this appeared to be the one as he walked Hammel with one out. Lynn would walk the bases loaded before he got his next out. Anthony Rizzo, who homered in the two previous games in this series, skied a fly ball to center to give Lynn the escape hatch. He retired Starlin Castro on a fly ball to right to leave the bases loaded.
Garcia headed back to St. Louis for re-evaluation
What step lefty Jaime Garcia will take next on his rehab assignment could be determined as soon as tomorrow after he returns to St. Louis for re-evaluation of his left elbow, which was struck by a pitch during his first rehab start.
Garcia was taken for X-rays at a nearby hospital.
The X-rays did not show a fracture and he was diagnosed with a bruise. He's returning to St. Louis to be re-evaluated. Garcia told reporters in Springfield, Mo., that he might have to miss his next scheduled start.
Meanwhile at Wrigley Field ... The Cardinals and Cubs are scoreless through one inning of play. Matt Carpenter opened the game with a single, but he was doubled-off first when Nate Schierholtz made a over-the-shoulder catch in deep right to rob Yadier Molina of extra bases and catch Carpenter away from first. Carpenter slipped as he tried to return to the base.
UPDATE: Garcia pulled early from rehab start
Jaime Garcia got two innings and 28 pitches into his first rehab assignment before something happened at the plate that kept him from retaking the mound.
With the bases loaded in the second inning, Garcia was struck by a pitch.
Garcia was apparently struck on the left elbow -- the back elbow when he's at the plate. The initial word from the Cardinals was that he had been struck on the right side, or near the shoulder. Photos from Springfield, Mo., showed the ball glancing off his back elbow. He was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution for X-rays, a club official said. Those were taken as a precaution to determine if there was any damage or fracturing from being struck by the pitch.
Garcia allowed two runs on three hits and a home run in his two innings. He struck out two and walked one.
There will be an update later this evening on Garcia's situation.
Jason Motte started his rehab assignment in the same Class AA game. He struck out the side on 13 pitches in his one inning of work.
Tonight at Wrigley, the Cardinals don throwbacks to the 1920s to face the host Cubs during their yearlong celebration of Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary. The Cardinals will attempt to salvage the series, as they say, by winning their first of the weekend. They've thrown Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha at the Cubs and come away with two losses. Lance Lynn draws the assignment tonight.
The Cardinals are two days removed from scoring five runs, four removed from scoring eight runs, and still the moves continue to try and fire the offense for an extended period.
They were shut out Saturday -- the fourth shutout this season.
The move manager Mike Matheny made tonight was bringing Yadier Molina forward in the lineup. A high-average hitter now with a solid-contact approach, Molina does fit the mold of a No. 2 hitter, though he's not one who can score from first on an extra-base hit by No. 3 hitter Matt Holliday. Molina has a few starts in the past at No. 2 in the lineup. This will be the first of the season for him.
Here's the lineup:
1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Yadier Molina, C
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Matt Adams, 1B
5. Allen Craig, RF
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Randal Grichuk, CF
8. Mark Ellis, 2B
9. Lance Lynn, RHP
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