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Unlucky 13th: Cardinals edge Cubs in Game 1, 8-5, to extend winning streak but lose Sosa to injury

Unlucky 13th: Cardinals edge Cubs in Game 1, 8-5, to extend winning streak but lose Sosa to injury

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A capsule look at the Cardinals-Dodgers playoff game

St. Louis Cardinals' Tyler O'Neill, left, celebrates with Nolan Arenado, center, and Tommy Edman after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO — The win that put these Cardinals on the brink of history may have come despite a significant loss.

The hard-charging Cardinals won their 13th consecutive game by holding fast to a shrinking lead and downing the Cubs, 8-5, in Game 1 of a doubleheader Friday at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals can match the club record set in 1935 for consecutive victories with a win in the nightcap. A rousing victory that included the 30th home runs of the season from Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill turn a frightening turn in the sixth for shortstop Edmundo Sosa.

Sosa was struck on the right hand by a fastball from Cubs reliever Tommy Nance.

He wheeled away from the plate, cradled his right hand in his left hand, and as a trainer came out to meet him, Sosa dashed past the trainer and straight into the Cardinals dugout. That revealed his feel for the severity of the injury. He presumably rushed to the clubhouse from there.

Sosa had X-rays at Wrigley Field and met with the Cubs' team physician on site. After the game, manager Mike Shildt said the initial scans were encouraging and did not reveal any fracture. He will have to be re-evaluated in the coming 24 hours.

Paul DeJong, who Sosa replaced as the team’s everyday shortstop with his remarkable second half, took over the position for the remainder of Game 1.

The hit batter started the Cardinals’ two-run rally that opened up an 8-0 lead by the end of the top of the sixth.

Goldschmidt had driven in three of those eight runs.

A day after hitting two homers to rally the Cardinals from a five-run deficit in Milwaukee, Goldschmidt started the Cardinals’ scoring with a two-run homer in the third inning. He joined Nolan Arenado as the two Cardinals with at least 30 homers. Two’s company for about two innings. That’s when a third Cardinal cleared the crowd to join them. O’Neill’s two-run homer in the fifth inning landed somewhere beyond the left-field bleachers – an estimated 454 feet away from home plate.

Already the first Cardinals’ trio to have at least seven homers each in September, O’Neill, Goldschmidt, and Arenado are also the first threesome in the Cardinals’ lineup with at least 30 homers since 2004, when Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen powered a 100 win team.

That earned them the nickname MV3.

With the addition of Jose Rondon’s two-run homer to O’Neill’s and Goldschmidt’s, the Cardinals carried that eight-run lead into the bottom of the sixth. Only then did they start to squander it. The Cubs rallied for five runs with two outs and sent nine batters to the plate, seven after reliever Alex Reyes had struck out the first two batters of the inning. Pinch-hitters did the damage. Sergio Alcantara came off the bench to hit a two-run homer into the basket in center field. When the next two Cubs also reached base, Reyes was lifted for fireman T. J. McFarland. Cubs manager David Ross countered with a righthanded pinch hitter.

McFarland got the line drive to center field that might have ended the inning – except Harrison Bader ran in on the ball and it carried over his head with the wind blowing out.

Austin Romine’s pinch-hit double to dead center scored two runs, and he came around on another double off McFarland to cut the Cardinals’ lead down to three runs.

O’Neill’s homer provided the heft of the difference.

Closer Giovanny Gallegos made sure it was enough with a scoreless seventh to secure his 13th save of the season.

Before the Cardinals unloaded on Steele and onto Waveland Avenue, they stuck with Happ to wriggle free on the game’s turning point.

The veteran lefty had a two-run lead to protect when he invited trouble by walking two batters around a one-out single. The Cubs loaded the bases and had two cracks at coming up with at least one run and possibly a tie game, all with just one out. A meeting on the mound ended with Happ still atop it. The lefty promptly tested the bottom of the Cubs’ order with fastballs and struck out the next two batters. He got David Bote with a 92.9-mph fastball, and then finished off the inning by getting outfielder Travce Thompson to whiff on a 92.3-mph fastball.

The Cubs stranded all three runners.

The Cardinals ran away with the rout from there.

The escape did add to Happ’s pitch count and bring the Cardinals’ bullpen into play before Happ was eligible for the win. Despite the doubleheader games being trimmed to seven innings, the rules to qualify for a win have not been. A starter must still pitch at least five innings and leave with the lead to receive a win. Happ allowed only two hits and pitched four scoreless innings on 74 pitches, but by not completing the fifth he left the win out there for a reliever to grab. With the Cubs’ uprising, one did by default.

The Cardinals have Dakota Hudson available in the bullpen for Game 2 to cover any extended innings after Jack Flaherty’s start. The opening day starter, who will be added to the active roster between games, is making his first appearance in a game at any level since straining his shoulder a month ago. He said his pitch count could be limited.

The lineups for Game 2 will be posted right here when available.

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, 2B

2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

3. Tyler O'Neill, LF

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Harrison Bader, CF

7. Lars Nootbaar, RF

8. Paul DeJong, SS

9. Jack Flaherty, RHP

CUBS

1. Rafael Ortega, CF

2. Frank Schwindel, 1B

3. Patrick Wisdom, LF

4. Ian Happ, RF

5. Nick Martini, LF

6. Nico Hoerner, SS

7. Austin Romine, C

8. Sergio Alcantara, 2B

9. Zach Davies, RHP

From earlier, previewing the thirtysomething feat ... 

Cardinals look to put 'win' in Windy City: Slugging trio has club chasing franchise record for consecutive victories

For so much of this season, the Cardinals' offense, like the Cardinals' record, hovered around average. Its strikeout rate was low compared to other clubs, but so was its power. It raged on the road with slugging numbers that ranked in the top third, but it sagged at home, where it was a bottom five team.

At one point during the season, Nolan Arenado mentioned how it seemed like he and Paul Goldschmidt could never get going at the same time.

And then came this 12-game winning streak.

A middle of the order that took five months to sort itself out is on the verge of doing something the Cardinals haven't had since the mighty days of the MV3.  

Goldschmidt's two home runs Thursday give him 29 for the season. That ties Tyler O'Neill, who also hit his 29th home run of the season during the series in Milwaukee. Nolan Arenado leads the team with 33 homers.

They are the first Cardinals trio to hit at least seven home runs each in the month of September, and by the time Friday's doubleheader against the Cubs is over they could also be the Cardinals' first threesome of thirtysomething homer-hitters since 2004. That was the year Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen (the MV3) all hit at least 30 home runs.

The games Friday will be seven-inning games.

It was just a few games ago that Arenado surpassing 100 RBIs was a notable feat because it hadn't been done 'round the Cardinals since 2012.

Although the Cardinals said Thursday that Jack Flaherty would be added to the roster as the 29th man to make the Game 2 start at Wrigley Field, the team switched gears and plans and may have been involved in some misdirection, too. 

A year removed from elbow surgery, Dakota Hudson will be on the active roster for both games of the doubleheader. He is the 29th man, added to the major-league roster just a few days after the team scratched his last planned rehab start for Class AAA Memphis. He's accumulated some airline miles bouncing between the two teams to arrive here, in Chicago, and to be available for long relief or another assignment.

Flaherty will start Game 2.

That will require the Cardinals to make a roster move between the afternoon game and evening game at Wrigley. 

If that move is optioning lefty Brandon Waddell, the Cardinals will have him available for the first time by using this approach with Hudson. It makes the most of the rosters and also buys them time if another move presents itself after Game 1.

The Cardinals' 12-game winning streak is the longest for the team since 1935, when Dizzy and Paul Dean combined to win seven games in a 14-game winning streak. That is the club record.

A doubleheader sweep of the adrift Cubs would tie it.

The lineups:

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, 2B

2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

3. Tyler O'Neill, LF

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Dylan Carlson, RF

6. Edmundo Sosa, SS

7. Harrison Bader, CF

8. Andrew Knizner, C

9. J. A. Happ, LHP

CUBS

1. Willson Contreras, C

2. Frank Schwindel, 1B

3. Ian Happ, RF

4. Patrick Wisdom, LF

5. Matt Duffy, 3B

6. Nico Hoerner, 2B

7. David Bote, 2B

8. Trayce Thompson, CF

9. Justin Steele, LHP

Check back this afternoon for coverage from Game 1 of the doubleheader, a preview of Game 2, and then of course all the usual expanded game coverage you've come to expect from the Post-Dispatch and StlToday.com.

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