Car­di­nals solve Wrigley again

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS -

The St. Louis Car­di­nals have a lot to ac­com­plish if they want to re­turn to Chicago in two weeks for a re­match of last year’s NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries. They would have to qual­ify for one of the wild-card spots, then win the sin­gle-elim­i­na­tion play­off game.

If they do, the Car­di­nals may be the one club that won’t be fazed by Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs, Stephen Pis­cotty home­red and the Car­di­nals boosted their play­off hopes by get­ting to Ja­son Ham­mel early in a 10-4 rout of Chicago on Satur­day.

Ran­dal Grichuk added three RBIs and Jhonny Per­alta had three hits and scored three runs for the Car­di­nals, who stopped a twogame skid and moved into a tie with San Fran­cisco for the fi­nal NL wild-card spot pend­ing the Gi­ants’ game at San Diego.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult year for us, up and down, but we got a good win and a lot of base hits,” said Molina, who ex­tended his hit­ting streak to 10 games. “Hope­fully, we can con­tinue it.”

Ham­mel (15-10) al­lowed six runs and six hits while get­ting just seven outs, hurt­ing his bid for a post­sea­son ro­ta­tion spot. A day af­ter clinch­ing the NL’s best record, the Cubs were de­nied their 99th win and a record 57th at Wrigley Field.

Dex­ter Fowler fin­ished a home run shy of the cy­cle, Ben Zo­brist had a two-run triple and Willson Con­tr­eras home­red in the ninth for the Cubs, who are 3-6 at home against St. Louis and 53-17 against other teams.

“They’re ob­vi­ously the best team in the league,” Molina said. “We re­spect that. But at the same time we come here think­ing about win­ning.”

Alex Reyes (4-1) needed 115 pitches to get through five in­nings. But the rookie set­tled down af­ter a tough start and al­lowed three runs and six hits with six strike­outs.

Hours af­ter Fri­day’s win, the Cubs clinched home-field ad­van­tage through­out the NL play­offs when Wash­ing­ton lost to Pitts­burgh. Man­ager Joe Mad­don was watch­ing on TV and de­clared it “an­other check­mark” for their sea­son.

They re­mained two wins shy of an­other goal — 100 wins — thanks to Ham­mel’s strug­gles.

The right-han­der’s solid pre­vi­ous out­ing re­newed talk he could sup­plant John Lackey as the No. 4 play­off starter. But Ham­mel saw his ERA rise from 3.56 to 3.83 af­ter Mad­don’s early hook.

Molina had a two-run dou­ble and Grichuk a tworun sin­gle in the first. An in­ning later, Pis­cotty crushed Ham­mel’s slider 450 feet onto Wave­land Av­enue for a solo homer. Ham­mel was lifted af­ter giv­ing up two more hits in the third.

Molina added a two-run sin­gle for his third hit in a three-run sev­enth against Hec­tor Ron­don. Pis­cotty’s third hit in the eighth off Rob Zas­tryzny scored an­other run.

Reyes had his 11 1/3-in­ning score­less streak snapped in Chicago’s tworun first, and Fowler’s RBI dou­ble an in­ning later made it 5-3. But Reyes al­lowed just two hits over his fi­nal three in­nings.

“When you have 71 pitches af­ter three (in­nings), you typ­i­cally got a lot more on you than the three runs they had,” Car­di­nals man­ager Mike Math­ney said. “He just did a nice job of man­ag­ing the in­nings.”

Mad­don cleared his bench in the late in­nings as Chicago’s four-game win­ning streak ended. The Cubs fell to 9-9 against St. Louis.

“They would be very tough,” Mad­don said of a po­ten­tial play­off matchup. “They’re very good of­fen­sively. They can match up out of the bullpen. They do a lot of things.”

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