The Chicago Cubs strutted into town Friday night and hit four home runs en route to a 7-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. They’ve been the best team in the National League Central for the last month, mainly due to steady starting pitching and the contributions of newcomers such as Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, and now, Jorge Soler. The rookie Soler, playing in his third major league game, reached base four times and hit two home runs to lead the attack.
The St. Louis Cardinals jumped on top in the first inning, scoring a run before there were any outs. Matt Carpenter led off with a single, and Kolten Wong followed by walking. Matt Holliday singled to left, driving in Carpenter. After Matt Adams made an out, Jhonny Peralta knocked in Wong with a looping single to left. Yadier Molina, making his return since he had surgery on his thumb in July, struck out in his first at-bat, and Oscar Taveras grounded out to first. It was 2-0 after one inning.
The Cubs answered in the second, when Luis Valbuena stepped into a four-seam fastball right down the middle from Shelby Miller and deposited it in the right-center field bleachers. Miller got in jams in the third and fourth innings, but was pitching a good game.
The score was 2-1 Cardinals when the Cubs came to bat in the seventh inning. On a 2-2 count, Soler launched a ball onto the terraced greenery in center field to tie the game at 2. Miller was able to get out of the inning without any further damage. The Cardinals threatened in the bottom of the frame when Randal Grichuk got a hit, and Wong joined him on base with two outs. They were not able to add to their tally.
Pat Neshek started the eighth for the Cardinals, and the Cubs jumped all over what he had to serve up. Pinch hitter Logan Watkins singled. Chris Coghlan followed by hitting a ground rule double to right that bounced into the stands. It appeared that Taveras was tentative on the ball and let it play him. Neshek tried to get the amazingly free-swinging Baez to go fishing on fastballs up and sliders away, but he couldn’t get the last strike before Baez ripped a two-run double to the wall in left center. Neshek promptly retired Starlin Castro and Valbuena, but then Soler strode to the plate. On the first pitch–a fastball up–Soler tomahawked it onto the concourse in left field, a 442-foot shot. It was the longest home run hit at Busch Stadium this season, and it meant that Soler’s two homers totaled a distance of 851 feet. The Cardinals got out of the inning trailing 6-2.
Alcantara led off the ninth inning with a homer to center off Nick Greenwood. Greenwood got the next three hitters out. Justin Grimm came into the game in relief of Pedro Strop, who pitched the eighth. Jon Jay singled sharply to right with one out. Daniel Descalso struck out on a wild pitch, but he was able to reach first base safely. Matt Carpenter struck out, as did Kolten Wong to end the game. Grimm recorded four strikeouts in the inning, as Taveras went down swinging to lead off the inning.
Pat Neshek took the loss; he’s 6-1. Shelby Miller pitched seven innings and really made just two bad pitches that were hit out of the park. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks made a quality start, going six innings and giving up two runs. Neil Ramirez got the win for his one inning of relief in the sixth.
Tags: St Louis Cardinals