Cardinals manager Mike Matheny enjoys when a team battles back after getting down. On Wednesday, he didn’t see his team do that, but he heard it.
Ejected after arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning, Matheny was just down the tunnel when Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Cardinals a 6-5 comeback win over the Cubs.
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"I could pretty much tell what was going on by listening to our bench and the reactions of the crowd," Matheny said.
What he heard was his team coming back after losing the lead to win a big division game, which he says is about his favorite thing.
"Man, I just love when these guys don’t give up," Matheny said. "I don’t know if I get any more charge out of this game than to see guys get knocked down and watch how they respond. … That would have been a tough one to lose."
The Cardinals salvaged a split with the Cubs in the four-game series after losing both games in a doubleheader Tuesday.
The Cardinals trailed 5-4 and Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (1-4) quickly retired the first two batters in the ninth. Matt Carpenter followed with a walk and Peralta connected on a 1-2 pitch, hitting a drive that barely cleared the wall in left field for his 12th home run.
"That’s the team ahead in our division and we’re trying to beat those guys," Strop said. "Ninth inning, two outs, two strikes. It’s really tough. That’s one of the times when baseball is tough; it’s not as easy as it looks on TV."
Miguel Socolovich (3-1) got two outs for the win. Trevor Rosenthal gave up a two-out double to Addison Russell in the ninth, but struck out Dexter Fowler for his 25th save in 26 chances.
The Cubs took the lead in the sixth on Miguel Montero’s three-run double. Matheny and catcher Yadier Molina were ejected after Montero’s hit, arguing that an earlier pitch to Montero should’ve been called a strike instead of a ball.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha gave up five earned runs and seven hits in six innings. He allowed three singles to load the bases for Montero.
Cubs reliever Travis Wood pitched three hitless innings and Hector Rondon worked a scoreless eighth before Strop came in. Chicago starter Jason Hammel exited with tightness in his left hamstring after pitching a hitless first inning.
Dan Johnson, promoted from Triple-A before the game, hit RBI singles in the second and fourth inning for St. Louis.
The Cubs scored twice in the fourth when Anthony Rizzo singled, Kris Bryant tripled and Jorge Soler had an infield single.
JOHNSON CALLED UP FOR HOT BAT
The Cardinals called up 1B Johnson from Triple-A Memphis to give the team another left-handed option while 1B Matt Adams is on the disabled list. Matheny said he’s also glad to have Johnson with the big league club because he’s been hot lately with Memphis, where he hit four home runs in his last 10 games. "A left-handed bat will help," Matheny said. "And also we’re not afraid to play that hot hand. … Let’s see if he’ll give us a little boost and ride it." It looked like a good call. Johnson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs in his first two at-bats.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t a big fan of the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby. But with two participants this year, Rizzo and Bryant, Maddon will set aside his personal feelings, hoping that Rizzo, a No. 6 seed, and Bryant, a No. 8 seed, can come through with a win. Maddon typically lays low during the All-Star break, but said he may watch the derby given his team’s ties to the event. But Maddon doesn’t have a favorite between his two young stars. "If there’s such a thing as a tie and they both can win it, I’ll take it," Maddon said.
Cardinals: Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong sat out Wednesday’s game, following a play in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday in which he hit his head on the ground while making a catch. Trainers had Wong riding a stationary bike to elevate his heart rate and taking tests, but Wong said he felt much better. "I woke up this morning feeling fine," Wong said. Matheny said Wong was "asymptomatic" for a concussion on Wednesday morning. "That’s a good sign," Matheny said.
Cubs: Hammel left after the first inning with left hamstring tightness after throwing 12 pitches and retiring the Cardinals in order.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (9-3, 2.70) will take the mound for the Cardinals on Thursday at Pittsburgh. The Cardinals are 13-3 in Martinez’ 16 starts this season, but he is 0-2 in three starts against the Pirates, including a loss on May 9 when he allowed 7 runs in 5 1-3 innings. In his last outing Martinez had a no decision in the Cardinals’ 2-1 win over San Diego on July 4. On Thursday, Martinez will face Pittsburgh LHP Jeff Locke (5-4, 4.15).
Cubs: The Cubs have an off day Thursday. On Friday, RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.82) will take the mound for Chicago in the first game of the three-game Crosstown Cup Series rivalry with the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field. Hendricks pitched 7 1-3 shut-out innings and got the win in his last start, beating the Marlins 2-0 on July 5. Hendricks has pitched 15 1/3 scoreless innings going into Friday’s game, a career-best. It will be his first career start against the White Sox. He’ll pitch against LHP Carlos Rodon (3-2, 4.18).