The Cardinals came into play on Saturday in a bid to set the franchise’s winning streak record after sweeping Friday’s doubles program in Chicago. Jon Lester started for the Redbirds and struggled a bit for five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks, but striking out six. The Cardinals ‘defense was huge with four double plays that limited the Cubs’ scoring opportunities, one of which was wild enough to fit the winning streak scenario. Adrian Sampson started for the Cubs and allowed just two runs in six innings, but the Cardinals’ offense built up against the Chicago relieving box, scoring another six runs to take the Cardinals to a victory of 8-5 which made history.
Tommy Edman was taken out by throwing a change in the outside corner to open the game. Paul Goldschmidt lit an inside pellet and lined up to the left. Tyler O’Neill got stuck on an inside lead and threw it to the right where Ian Happ made a sliding hold to seat the Cardinals in order.
Wilson Contreras returned a fastball to Lester who pitched first for the out. Frank Schwindel hit a lead on the screws left but straight to O’Neill for number two. Ian Happ lost three lengths, reaching for a change far from the outside corner of the plate.
Nolan Arenado led the second and jumped to David Bote in the second, after which Yadier Molina skied a 2-2 right lead for the second out. Harrison Bader sat on the outside lead in a 3-2 count and threw him into the center-right seats to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. Lars Nootbaar saw eight shots before moving to the left for the final.
Patrick Wisdom worked a full count but struck out with a knee change. Matt Duffy fired a 2-2 cutter at O’Neill, who lost the ball to the sun and couldn’t catch up, putting Duffy in second with a double. Bote walked seven times to bring in Trayce Thompson, who had a 6-4-3 double play late in the inning.
Paul DeJong was put out on a 1-2 lead that caught the outside corner of the plate. Lester rolled over an outside lead and shot it in the second for the second out and Edman grounded a shift in the shift, making the Cardinals sit quietly.
Sergio Alcantara smoked a low fastball across the left side of the infield for a start single and moved up to second on a sacrifice from Sampson. Contreras got a fastball in the area and squeezed it through left center for an RBI brace, tying the game at 1-1.
Schwindel returned an elevated 2-2 fastball to Yadi, who cradled the ball between his leg and arm for the second outing of the inning. Happ then lined up a belt-high shot down the center for a hit, scoring Contreras to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Bader threw at home on the play, allowing Happ to move up to second place. Wisdom walked four lengths, bringing in Duffy who had the Cardinals’ second 6-4-3 double play in as many innings.
Goldschmidt went after a fastball and lined it up with Wisdom for the first out. O’Neill got a fastball on the inside, hitting it from Wrigley even though it was going into the Chicago wind. As the game was tied 2-2, Arenado came out in the middle to a 3-2 lead. Yadi closed the top of the frame, crushing a short lead for the final exit.
Bote drove a weak change of 1-2 to the left for a single. Thompson struck out at bat looking at a 1-2 with four seams in the inside corner. Alcantara gently overcame a change to Edman and beat the pitch for a shot in the field to put two. Sampson decayed Arenado, who swung the ball on the transfer as he looked to throw in the third, allowing Sampson to reach an E5 and charge the bases. Contreras then scored in the middle, scoring Bote to give the Cubs another 3-2 lead. Schwindel, with the bases still loaded, jumped to Edman on second for the second out. Happ then worked seven lengths, bringing Alcantara home to take the Cubs’ lead to 4-2. Wisdom followed and grounded in Edman, ending the Cubs threat.
Bader opened the fifth with a single in the infield to Duffy in the third. Nootbaar hit on six shots, swinging a knee change. DeJong sent another ground ball to Duffy, who pitched the first for the out as Bader stole the second before the game. A wild pitch to Lester then moved Bader to third place, but Lester struck for the block there.
Duffy started off with a long single left on a fastball from Lester that plunged below 86 mph. Bote came down watching a fastball in the outside corner for a generous three hit. Thompson then relied on the choice of a defensive player and Alcantara struck out a free kick, leaving Duffy first. The medical team came to see Lester during Alcantara’s batting attack, but Lester apparently presented Mike Shildt with a pretty good deal to complete the round.
The Redbirds lost in order in the sixth, as Edman lost short, Goldschmidt landed in third and O’Neill flew to the center.
Kwang Hyun Kim got a rare appearance in the sixth to face pinch hitter Austin Romine, who slapped a fastball past Arenado on a tough jump for a single to start. Contreras sank into another double play, this one of the 5-4-3 variety. Schwindel then tapped a change in front of the plate, which Yadi pounced on and pitched first for the final out.
Codi Heuer replaced Sampson on the mound and gave up a brace to Arenado, who did a superb slide to avoid a tag-per-second. Yadi followed with a single on a high fastball, putting the Cardinals in the corners. Bader threw another fastball into left field, reducing the deficit to 4-3 and putting the runners in first and second. Nootbaar then scored on a soft liner on the left, scoring Yadi to tie the game 4-4.
Scott Effross then relieved Heuer, who was unable to register an out before being taken out. DeJong, with runners in the corners again and no outs, skied a deep center slider that easily scored Bader, giving the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. Dylan Carlson hit a blow for KK and fell while swinging under a high fastball. Edman then found himself short, ending a productive frame for the Cardinals’ offense.
TJ McFarland came in at the end of the seventh for the Cards and took out Happ on a Groundout in Arenado. McFarland then stepped on Wisdom just to wipe him out on another 6-4-3 double play hit by Duffy to close the frame.
The Cubs doubled in the eighth, bringing Rowan Wick to the pitch and Rafael Ortega to play on the left. Goldschmidt shot a goal four lengths below the zone. O’Neill came down waving a 1-2 cursor which broke the plate. Arenado then made a 5-4-3 double play, sending the game into the bottom of the eighth.
Bote took a lead in the other direction in the right corner of the field and reached third place for a starting triple. Thompson then walked to put the runners in the first and third row. Alcantara struck by swinging on an inside lead. The Cardinals then played a double game that words could not adequately describe:
Tommy Nance relieved Wick in the ninth and got Molina with a flyout on the warning lane to the right. Bader gently rolled a lead through left center for a brace with an out for his fourth hit and stole the third on Nootbaar’s strike while the Cubs defense slept. Nance hit Nootbaar with a curved ball into the dirt, but the ball slipped out of Contreras, allowing Bader to score on a nifty slide for an insurance run to bring the score to 6-4.
Nootbaar came in first on the abandoned third strike and scored with an unmistakable dinger from DeJong on a fast first shot that opened the game at 8-4. Matt Carpenter hit McFarland and fell while swinging a low slider. Edman then passed a slider at Schwindel for a Groundout, leaving the Cardinals with just three strikeouts to make history.
Luis Garcia came close to the game and pulled Contreras out with a 3-2 lead out. Schwindel followed, returning a 0-2 lead to Garcia for the second out. Happ got a 3-2 fastball through the pipe and hit the center, reducing the Cards lead to 8-5.
Wisdom then pulled the stick out watching a low lead and far as the Cardinals won a franchise-record 15th straight game with an 8-5 victory.
The Redbirds drop to 86-69 with the win, reducing their magic number to three to clinch a playoff berth. The Cardinals will look to continue their historic streak with a Cubs sweep on Sunday. Jake Woodford is set to face Keegan Thompson in a duel with the first pitch scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Final launch lines
Ballast: 5 IP / 8 H / 4 R / 3 ER / 3 BB / 6 K / 0 HR
Kim (F, 7-7): 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
McFarland (H, 13): 2 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Garcia: 1 IP / 1 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 1 HR
Sampson: 6 IP / 3 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / 2 HR
Heuer (L, 7-3) (BS, 3): 0 IP / 4 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Effross: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Wick: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Nance: 1 IP / 2 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 1 HR