Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Cubs 4
By Rob Rains
From the first time he started against the Cubs more than 15 years ago, Adam Wainwright has received a lot of support from his two close friends, Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols.
So why should that change the last time the three appeared in the starting lineup together for the Cardinals against the Cubs?
With Wainwright on the mound and with Molina and Pujols set to retire at the end of the year, Saturday night at Busch Stadium marked their final game together against Chicago, a fact the Cubs likely are happy about.
Wainwright survived a rough first inning to pick up career win number 194 and Molina’s bases-loaded double was the big hit in a six-run third inning that carried the Cardinals to the victory. He followed that up by stealing third without a throw.
Pujols just missed hitting his 695th career home run, flying out to the wall in left in the first inning.
Paul Goldschmidt homered as part of a 2-of-4 night to raise his league-leading average to .331. He also leads the league in RBIs and is third in home runs, two behind league-leader Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies and one behind Austin Riley of the Braves.
The win improved the Cardinals’ record to 78-55, their first time being 23 games above .500 this season. They are 44-22 at Busch Stadium, where they have won 17 of their last 19 games.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Goldschmidt hit the first of three home runs for the Cardinals, a two-run shot in the first. It was his 34th homer of the year and increased his RBI total to 107 … Tommy Edman and Tyler O’Neill hit back-to-back homers in the six-run third inning, giving the Cardinals 24 home runs in their last 11 games … Pujols had a single and reached on a walk in his four plate appearances … Paul DeJong got the start at shortstop and struck out twice and walked twice. He has just two hits in his last 46 at-bats.
On the mound: Wainwright allowed four hits in the first inning that produced three runs. He settled down at that point and did not give up another run until the fifth, his final inning of work … Andre Pallante, Jake Woodford, JoJo Romero and Giovanny Gallegos followed Wainwright with one inning of relief each, allowing a combined one hit.
Key stat: The three runs were the most Wainwright has allowed in the first inning this season. He had allowed a combined total of three runs in the first inning in his last 16 starts dating back to June 11 … It was the first runs any Cardinal starter had allowed in the first inning in 14 games, since Aug. 20.
Worth noting: The first time Wainwright, Molina and Pujols all appeared together in the Cardinals starting lineup for a game against the Cubs was on April 22,2007 at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals won 12-9. Wainwright was not involved in the decision, allowing seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Pujols was 3-of-6 with 3 RBIs while Molina was 0-of-4 … Steven Matz will throw another bullpen session on Sunday, then head to Springfield to begin a rehab assignment. The Cardinals are hoping he will be able to pitch as a reliever sometime before the end of the regular season … Ben DeLuzio became the fifth different starter the Cardinals have used in center field this season.
Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start in the 1:15 p.m. game on Sunday, the Cardinals final game against the Cubs this season.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains