Friday’s Game Report: Cubs 8, Cardinals 5
By Rob Rains
By the time Anthony Rizzo faced off against Daniel Ponce de Leon in the sixth inning on Friday, Johan Oviedo was out of the game, having come up short once again in his attempt for his first career win.
The Cardinals still were clinging to a 5-4 lead over the Cubs, however, as Ponce de Leon began throwing fastball after fastball to Rizzo but could not get him to swing and miss.
Rizzo fouled off nine two-strike pitches before turning on a 96 miles per hour fastball and launching it over the right field wall for a game-tying homer on the 14th pitch of the at-bat.
The fired-up Cubs broke the tie in the seventh and won the opener of the three-game series at Wrigley Field, wiping out a 5-1 Cardinals lead by scoring seven unanswered runs over five consecutive innings.
“This game hinges on a few things most nights,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Some days it doesn’t go your way.
“Give them some credit – guy had a 100-pitch at-bat and hit a home run … You’ve got to tip your hat to that at-bat. Ponce just got a ball down the guy could put a swing on and you’ve got to give Rizzo credit; he had a good mentality to spoil a lot of tough pitches with two strikes and put together a big at-bat to get a pitch he could handle.”
Oviedo, still looking for his first career win in his 11th start, carried a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning but could only retire one of the five hitters he faced in the inning before he was pulled from the game. Two of the three runs he allowed in the inning scored on a passed ball and a throwing error by Yadier Molina.
“I always think about getting that win; it’s one of the things I really wanted most, but my plan at the end of the day is just to help the team out and get to five, six innings,” Oviedo said. “If the win comes I’m going to be happy about it. My plan is just to get better every day and keep working.”
Here is how Friday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals got three RBIs from Nolan Arenado, playing his first game at Wrigley as a member of the Cardinals, on singles in the third and fifth innings … Matt Carpenter’s RBI single in the second drove in Arenado with their first run after he had reached base when he was hit by a pitch … Dylan Carlson’s double drove in the other run in the fifth, when the Cardinals scored three times … Oviedo helped his own cause offensively by drawing leadoff walks to open the third and fifth inning and each time coming around to score … Molina finished with three of the Cardinals’ nine hits.
On the mound: Oviedo had allowed only two hits through the first four innings, a single and home run by Joc Pederson while striking out five. A leadoff walk – their only walk in the game – started the troublesome fifth, followed by a one-out single, the passed ball, a triple and the throwing error … Pederson’s two-run double off Genesis Cabrera broke the tie in the seventh and Willson Contreras provided an insurance run with a homer off Jake Woodford in the eighth.
Key stat: The game was played in front of 35,112 fans, the first game this season at Wrigley Field which was open to 100 percent stadium capacity.
Worth noting: Paul DeJong came off the injured list to start at shortstop, hitting eighth. He was hitless in four at-bats … The last Cardinals pitcher to walk twice and score two runs in a game against the Cubs was Curt Simmons on Sept. 4, 1960 … No Cardinals pitcher had done it in a game at Wrigley Field since 1942 …
Looking ahead: John Gant will get the start on Saturday night in the second game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains