Contreras and Schwarber homer as Cubs take series versus Cardinals
|Sunday, July 23, 2017, 11:20 PM- -|
CHICAGO – As unbelievable as this might seem, the Chicago Cubs had not been five games above .500 at any point this season prior to defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 at the Friendly Confines on Sunday night. The Cubs, who have won eight of nine since returning from the All-Star break, made the most of their six hits on the evening, riding a solid showing by starting pitcher Jose Quintana to victory. While the Cardinals, who were led by an equally effective Michael Wacha on the hill, accrued seven hits themselves, they came out on the wrong end of a matchup that featured four combined home runs.
For the second consecutive game, the Cubs fell into an 0-2 hole due to the home run ball, with Cardinals right fielder Randal Grichuk going yard for the second time in two days. Crushing a two-run bomb over the wall in center field to score catcher Yadier Molina in the second inning, Grichuk provided the Cardinals with an early two-run lead. Grichuk, who now has 12 homers this year, went 2-4 at the dish.
The Cardinals could have taken an even earlier lead, but first baseman Matt Carpenter was gunned down at the plate while attempting to score from first on a two-out double in the opening inning. Shortstop Addison Russell, who served as left fielder Kyle Schwarber's relay man on the play, threw Carpenter out for the first defensive gem of the night for the Cubs, foreshadowing the first offensive gem of the night for Chicago, also performed by Russell, in the third inning.
Learning the hard way. pic.twitter.com/0amYYxcXFx— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 24, 2017
Russell led off the bottom half of the third with a double between left and center and was later brought home on another double, with Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward smacking one to deep right to produce his 38th RBI of the season. Heyward was then scored on an RBI single off the bat of Kris Bryant, marking one of the third baseman's two hits on the evening.
The Cubs were not able to cherish knotting the game up at two for very long, though, as St. Louis shortstop Paul DeJong took Quintana deep on a solo shot to center in the top of the fourth. DeJong, who also batted a long ball in the second game of this series, finished 2-4. Schwarber saw DeJong's home run and raised him one of his own, as the young slugger showcased his hitting prowess in the proceeding half inning with a moonshot into the bleachers beyond right field for his 15th home run of the year.
Chicago catcher Willson Contreras hit his 15th homer of the season tonight, too, and his two-run shot proved to be the most important hit of the game. Two at-bats after Bryant rattled Wacha with a leadoff double in the sixth, Contreras tattooed a pitch into the stands, providing the Cubs with their first lead of the night at 5-3.
The Contreras homer proved to be enough for the Cubs to earn the "W," as Chicago was bolstered by a solid bullpen effort, including a successful save attempt by closer Wade Davis (20) in the ninth to make the 5-3 Cubs victory official. Quintana (2-0) collected the win, making it two wins in two starts for him since joining the North Siders. Quintana threw six innings of five-hit ball and struck out seven. Wacha (7-4), on the other hand, was not so fortunate, as he drew the loss for giving up the winning home run to Contreras. The triumph provided the Cubs with a series win at home against divisional foe St. Louis (47-51), moving Chicago (51-46) into a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers (53-48) atop the National League Central standings.