Molina steps up in ninth to secure 5-4 win at Wrigley
MAY 04, 2014 11:49p ET
For eight innings Sunday night, moving Yadier Molina into the two-hole didn't make any difference for the Cardinals. Batting somewhere besides fifth for the first time this season, he went 0 for 4 and grounded into a double play.
Then came the ninth inning of a tie game. With two out and the bases loaded, Molina's spot came up and he delivered a ground single up the middle, just out of reach of Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro.
Two runs scored and the Cardinals managed to avoid being swept at Wrigley Field by winning 5-4.
The Cardinals evened their record at 16-16 to hang on to second place in the division, half a game ahead of the Reds. More important, the Cardinals were able to have a halfway happy flight to Atlanta, where they will face a team struggling even more than them.
The Braves will be trying to end a six-game losing streak when they send out Aaron Harang against Shelby Miller on Monday night. Harang allowed a total of three runs in his first six starts but then gave up nine to the Marlins last Wednesday.
-- Timely hitting. Two-out hits have proven elusive for the Cardinals but they got six Sunday night, and four of them produced all of their runs. Before Molina's winner in the ninth, they scored two in the second. Following a two-out walk to Jhonny Peralta, Randal Grichuk tripled him in and Mark Ellis then doubled to score Grichuk. In the third, after a two-out walk to Matt Holliday, Matt Adams doubled to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
-- Lance Lynn. Except for a two-out, two-run single he allowed to Cubs starter Jason Hammel, his first hit of the year, it was a good night for Lynn. He gave up only two other hits and no more runs in six innings, though he came away without a win for the third straight outing. He won his first four starts.
-- Jason Motte. He's getting closer to St. Louis. Motte made his first rehab assignment Sunday for Class AA Springfield and, facing the middle of the Tulsa order, struck out the side on 13 pitches. Motte is expected to work again Tuesday night. The news wasn't as positive for lefty Jaime Garcia in his first rehab start. Trying to come back from last year's shoulder surgery, he was hit by a pitch in the left elbow when batting. X-rays were negative but the club said he was returning to St. Louis for further examination.
-- Matt Carpenter. His OBP remains a robust .368 and he ranks among NL leaders with 23 runs, but still -- he's not hitting like he did in 2013. Example 1: Last year, he hit an NL-best .279 with two strikes. This year? .178. Example 2: Last year, he struck out once every 7.3 plate appearances. This year, he's averaging a strikeout every 4.6 PAs. His 32 strikeouts are eight more than anyone else on the club.
-- 3-0 leads. In their past seven games, the Cardinals have taken a 3-0 lead four times. Three times, they lost the advantage. Twice against the Brewers they went on to lose the game. The Cubs tied it at 3 with a run in the seventh that scored when Carlos Martinez bounced a curveball between Molina's legs following a two-out triple by Luis Valbuena. It was ruled a wild pitch.
-- Peter Bourjos. Talk about caught in a difficult cycle. He needs playing time to find a groove, but he won't play if he doesn't do anything with the infrequent at-bats he's getting. Entering in the eighth on a double switch, Bourjos came up with two on in the ninth and a chance to put the Cardinals in front but struck out. While battling for nine pitches was good, swinging at ball three was not. Bourjous extended a hitless skid to 18 at-bats, his last hit coming on April 15. The plate appearance Sunday was just his fourth since last Saturday.
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