Former Cardinals utilityman Joe Mather delivered the game-winning, two-run single off Cardinals right-hander Jason Motte to give the Chicago Cubs a 3-2 win over the Cardinals Monday night. But a bigger at-bat might have been the 12-pitch (six foul balls at 3-2) by pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair that resulted in a one-out walk.
Motte then walked catcher Geovany Soto on four pitches and, after an infield out, let a cutter get too much of the plate and Mather made him pay for it as the Cardinals lost for the first time when leading after seven innings.
“I didn’t make a good enough pitch,” said Motte, who, though he wound up with 31 pitches in the ninth, said he wasn’t exhausted or distracted by the at-bat with LaHair.
The Cardinals’ offense again struggled, which, as much as anything, cost left-hander Jaime Garcia a victory. Garcia, exhibiting a sharp slider and a changeup that he turns over like a screwball, was scored on only in the first as he worked 7 2/3 strong innings, walking only one.
“He was terrific,” said manager Mike Matheny. “The run early on was from two infield hits. Whenever he did get into a little spot, he had that extra movement.
“We just couldn’t stack a lot of hits together.”
If the Cardinals don’t win both of the next two games of the series, their streak of 16 consecutive series won over the last two seasons will end.
— CF Jon Jay, who hasn’t been able to play since last Thursday when he slammed against the wall, spraining his right shoulder, got relatively good news when he returned to St. Louis to have his shoulder examined. Jay, who rejoined the club in Chicago Monday afternoon, said no significant structural damage had been found. “I can’t mess it up any more, so I can continue to push it — which is what I wanted to hear,” said Jay. The left-handed hitter might not play in the series with the Cubs but is expected to be ready when Milwaukee comes to St. Louis this weekend.
— 2B Tyler Greene, getting more and more time at the position, got his fourth start in the last six games on Monday. 2B Daniel Descalso, a left-handed batter, is three for his last 16. “You see somebody (Greene) whose timing looks right,” manager Mike Matheny said, “and you figure out a way to keep it going.”
— OF/INF Allen Craig, in his second rehabilitation game as he rebounds from November knee surgery, had three hits in his first three at-bats for Class A Palm Beach. Craig is scheduled to appear in the outfield on Tuesday. He is likely still a week or so from getting back to the majors.
— 3B David Freese, who missed two months with a broken bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch last year, took a pitch from Chicago RHP Matt Garza off his right hand on Monday. Freese stayed in the game but manager Mike Matheny wasn’t happy with the up-and-in pitch.
— One day after getting his first at-bat of the season, a pinch single, CF Skip Schumaker returned to the starting lineup. “He was wanting to get in there in the worst way,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He didn’t expect to start the season on the DL, then come back for two pitches, then go back in the trainer’s room.” Schumaker, who had been on the disabled list with strained right oblique, came out of his first big-league start on Friday after two pitches when he banged into a wall chasing a drive by Pittsburgh LF Alex Presley.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13— Number of games in which a Cardinals starting pitcher has given up two or fewer runs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Those kinds of games happen a lot here. This isn’t the first and won’t be the last.” — Manager Mike Matheny, on a one-run loss at Wrigley Field to the Chicago Cubs.