Cardinals have last laugh against Cubs


Just when things looked bleak for the St. Louis Cardinals, along came one swing that may have revitalized the team.

Down by one run in the ninth inning against the hated Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals looked lost. Then came Jhonny Peralta, and with one swing the Cardinals were back in business.

Peralta’s two-run homer gave St. Louis a 6-5 lead, and closer Trevor Rosenthal held the fort down from there as the Cardinals hung on for a big victory.

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St. Louis now stands at 55-30 overall, with a 4-1/2 game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and an 8-1/2 game lead over the Cubs. Pittsburgh and St. Louis begin a crucial series on Thursday that will close out the first half of the season.

RBI singles by new first-base callup Dan Johnson and pitcher Michael Wacha gave St. Louis a 2-0 edge in the second inning, and the Cardinals increased that lead to 4-0 on an RBI triple by Randal Grichuk and another run-scoring single by Johnson in the fourth inning.

That was when Wacha, who is usually Mr. Reliable, suffered a meltdown. Wacha surrendered five runs over the next three innings, with the big blow coming off Miguel Montero‘s three-run double.

But, as has been the case this season, the Cubs’ bullpen couldn’t hold on. Pedro Strop surrendered Peralta’s ninth-inning bomb and the Cardinals had new life.

There is no doubt the Cubs are a much-improved ballclub. While they may be one year or two away from contending for the National League Central title, the Cubs are a legitimate wild-card threat. They are also adept at getting into the Cardinals’ heads. and St. Louis can’t let that happen.

Chicago and St. Louis see each other six times in September, including three at Busch Stadium Sept. 7-9 and three at the Cubs’ ballpark on Sept. 18-20. (I just can’t call that park Wrigley anymore with those blinding scoreboards.)