The St. Louis Cardinals (54-47) lost to the Chicago Cubs (41-58) on Saturday afternoon by a score of 3-2. Cards’ starter Joe Kelly (1-4) took the loss after going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits while striking out six. Cubs reliever James Russell (3-0) got the win after the Cubs broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Cubs took an early 2-1 lead after Alfonso Soriano hit a two-RBI triple in the bottom of the first inning, but a sacrifice fly by Daniel Descalso in the top of of sixth inning scored Lance Berkman and tied the game at two.
A key moment of the game was in the bottom of the seventh inning when Kelly let Cubs’ All-Star Bryan LaHair reach base on a leadoff walk. After Tony Campana pinch-ran for LaHair and stole second base, Geovany Soto singled, making it runners on first and third with none out. Jeff Baker then stepped to the plate and lined it right to second baseman Skip Schumaker, but was unable to double off Soto, leaving runners at first and third. Manager Mike Matheny then made a pitching change, opting to go with recent acquisition Brian Fuentes, marking his second appearance as a Cardinal. After striking out Luis Valbuena, Fuentes let up a bunt-single by Reed Johnson, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
In the top of the ninth, Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, who has a history of blowing saves against the Cardinals, allowed a leadoff hit to Descalso, who was subsequently replaced by Tyler Greene as a pinch-runner. However, despite a stolen base to put the tying run into scoring position, pinch-hitter Allen Craig flew out to center field, Schumaker struck out, and Jon Jay ended the game with a groundout to second base. It was Marmol’s 13th save of the season.
Listen, these types of games are going to happen. After a 6-1 home stand, the Cardinals have split the first two games in Chicago, and that’s just baseball. This game could have certainly been a lot worse considering first base umpire Mike Winters accidentally called Starlin Castro out on a ground ball that should have extended the Cubs’ inning, leading to Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum’s ejection. There were only eleven hits in the entire ballgame, which is very uncharacteristic for the friendly hitting ballpark of Wrigley Field. While some might say that they “wasted” another good outing from Joe Kelly, I think you have to be encouraged by everything this young rookie is showing us. He is composed and confident on the mound and besides a shaky first inning, he had a lot of movement on his pitches in the proceeding innings. More importantly, with each and every start, he’s starting to make Cards fans believe that he is no fluke and plans to stay in this rotation for a long time.
What’s Next: The Cardinals try to win the rubber game of their series with the Cubs tomorrow afternoon, with Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.31) taking on Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.88). The game begins at 1:20 CST and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.