Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Cubs 5

Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Cubs 5

By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com

If one play can accurately sum up everything that has been happening with the Cardinals in the last two weeks, it came in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field.

It you’re scoring at home, or anywhere else, it went 3-2-5-4-2-8-6 … a double play that involved two rundowns in which counting T.J. McFarland, who threw the pitcher, every player on the field except the left fielder and right fielder touched the ball.

It came with the Cardinals clinging to a 5-4 lead, five outs away from winning their 15th consecutive game, breaking the mark set by the 1935 team which they tied with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday.

A leadoff triple by David Bote had put the tying run on the third, and the go ahead run reached first on a walk. After a strikeout, McFarland got Rafael Ortega to hit a grounder to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who threw home.

Bote stopped midway between third and home and got into a rundown, eventually tagged out by Nolan Arenado. The two other runners also were caught in no man’s land, and Paul DeJong tagged Tryce Thompson for the third out.

Inspired and energized by the play, the offense – led by Harrison Bader, tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth to finish off the record-setting victory.

Bader delivered his career-high fourth hit, a double, then stole third and scored on a wild pitch, his slide eluding the tag at the plate.

Earlier Bader had hit his 14th homer, one of three by the Cardinals in the game. He became the first Cardinal player with four hits, including a home run, and two stolen bases since Ray Lankford on Sept. 24, 1998.

The four hits raised Bader’s average during the winning streak to .411 (23-of-56) with nine doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs. For the month of September, he is hitting .372 (32-of-86) with 10 doubles, five homers and 17 RBIs.

The 15 wins is the fourth longest streak by any team in the majors in the last 50 years and reduced the Cardinals’ magic number for clinching the second wild-card spot to three.

Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:

At the plate: Bader’s homer in the second was followed by a blast by Tyler O’Neill in the fourth, his 32nd of the year, and Paul DeJong in the ninth. It gave the Cardinals 11 homers in the first three games of the series and 13 in their last 26 innings. They tied the team record of 45 homers in September, set in 1998, with four games left in the month. O’Neill’s homer was his 11th this month, the most by a Cardinal since Mark McGwire hit 14 in 1999 … DeJong’s homer, a two-run shot, followed a sacrifice fly in the seventh that broke a 4-4 tie and put the Cardinals ahead, capping a three-run inning that began with the Cardinals trailing 4-2 … The Cardinals have scored eight or more runs in their last five games. The team record is six, last accomplished in 2017.

On the mound: Jon Lester allowed four runs, three earned, in his five innings of work. One of the runs scored on a bases-loaded walk, the 29th issued by the Cardinals this season, breaking a tie with the 1999 Mariners for the most in the modern era … Kwang Hyun Kim earned the victory with a scoreless sixth inning, before McFarland got an inning-ending double play in the seventh and then the crazy, streak-saving double play to end the eighth, the fourth turned by the Cardinals in the game … Luis Garcia pitched the ninth, giving up a homer to Ian Happ.

Key stat: Ten of the record-setting 15 consecutive wins have come on the road, the third longest road winning streak in team history. The 1941 Cardinals won 12 road games in a row, a mark equaled  by the 1944 team.

Worth noting: Edmundo Sosa did not play after being hit by a pitch on his right wrist on Friday but the Cardinals still don’t expect him to miss more than a few games. Dylan Carlson also did not start for the second game in a row as he deals with discomfort in his wrist, but he was able to pinch hit … Jordan Hicks started for Memphis at Jacksonville on Saturday night but failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced, allowing a single and walking the other two. Memphis has a week remakining in its season and Hicks also is expected to pitch in October in the Arizona Fall League … In a procedural move, Jake Woodford was optioned to Memphis after Friday night’s game, then recalled on Saturday when Justin Miller was placed on the injured list.

Looking ahead: Woodford will get the start on Sunday as the Cardinals try for the four-game sweep and their 16th consecutive win.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.