Valbuena HR helps Cubs hand Cardinals 4th straight loss
Jul 25, 2014 at 8:02p ET
The Chicago Cubs don't have the look of a team more interested in draft position than on-field success.
One day after the Central Division cellar-dwellers couldn't have looked worse in a 13-3 embarrassment against the lowly San Diego Padres, they showed some grit in a come-from-behind, 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, who suffered their fourth consecutive loss on Friday.
A persistent wind at their backs, the division rivals treated the largest crowd at Wrigley Field this season to five home runs and 23 hits.
''A good team win,'' said manager Rick Renteria, whose club trailed 3-0 before even getting a chance to bat. ''The crowd was buzzing all day. It was a pretty neat environment. Obviously, the fans were into it.''
Luis Valbuena hit a decisive two-run homer in the seventh to decide the see-saw affair.
Kevin Siegrist (1-2) hit Anthony Rizzo with a full-count pitch to start the inning. One batter later, Valbuena launched the first pitch into the center-field bleachers, his first homer against a left-hander in 37 at-bats this season.
''I was looking for a fastball, and I got a fastball right there,'' Valbuena said. ''That's why I got aggressive.''
''We had the match-ups we wanted right there,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ''We wanted (a left-hander) in that situation, in that part of the lineup, and a lefty ended up getting him.''
The Cardinals tied the score 5-5 on solo homers by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras singled to break the tie in the sixth, but the lead was short-lived.
Cubs starter Travis Wood did well to survive five innings after a rocky start. He allowed five runs - two earned - and seven hits with one walk.
Wood aided his cause with a solo homer off Joe Kelly in the fourth inning, his third of the season. He became the first Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano (2009) with at least 10 RBIs in a season.
''They fought off a lot of pitches and made me work,'' Wood said. ''I was only able to go five, but luckily, I was able to keep it close and we were able to pull it out.''
Ryan Sweeney's three-run homer pulled Chicago even at 3-3 in the second inning. Kelly had not allowed an earned run in 18 1-3 innings against the Cubs before then.
One inning later, Sweeney singled home Valbuena, who had walked, for a 4-3 lead.
Kelly lasted 4 2-3 innings allowing eight hits and two walks.
St. Louis struck first with three unearned three runs in the opening inning, when Wood was forced to throw 32 pitches largely because of two errors behind him.
Carpenter and Holliday singled, then rookie second baseman Arismendy Alcantara threw away a potential double-play grounder that allowed a run to score.
One out later, Jon Jay hit a two-run double, and when left fielder Chris Coghlan allowed the ball to get past him, the batter advanced to third base on the second error of the inning.
NOTES: One night after his team played a 3-hour, 36-minute, nine-inning game, Renteria said there was no easy solution to quicken the pace. ''The only thing that speeds up ballgames is good pitching and good defense,'' he said. ''There are a lot of times, to be honest with you, when we're ready to go and we're waiting for the TV (signal). Sometimes you can't control the length of ballgames. They are what they are.'' ... Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson is not expected to miss a start. He left the game in the sixth inning on Thursday because of cramps in his pitching hand. ... OF Justin Ruggiano (groin) was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game but was available off the bench once again. ... St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller will make his first start since July 10 on Saturday. The veteran had been moved to the bullpen because of a minor back ailment and pitched one innings in his only appearance. ''I felt a little tired (before), but at the same time, you always want to be out there,'' he said. ''Right now, I feel really strong. My body is where it needs to be.'' ... The Cardinals have a 4-6 record since All-Star C Yadier Molina (thumb) was placed on the DL.