The Bottom Line

— The St. Louis Cardinals (82-71) defeated the Chicago Cubs (59-94) by a score of 6-3 on Sunday afternoon. With a Milwaukee Brewers victory on Sunday, the Cardinals remain at 2.5 games ahead for the second slot in the National League wild card race.

Kyle Lohse gave up 3 earned runs and 5 hits over 6 innings. He walked 1 and struck out 5, but he also gave up one home run to Alfonso Soriano.

Allen Craig hit a 2-RBI double in the third inning, driving in David Freese and Matt Holliday to give the Cards a 2-0 lead.

Pete Kozma hit his first Major League home run in the sixth inning to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead and hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth to give the Redbirds a 5-3 lead.

Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte all threw scoreless innings to secure the Cardinals’ 82nd victory on the season. It was Motte’s 40th save of the season.

It was not even 24 hours ago when I thought we would be in a position to have to salvage a game against the CUBS. But that’s why you play all 27 outs  and play hard all the way. A week ago, I stated that the Cardinals had 9 games left against the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs and that they absolutely had to take advantage. Not groundbreaking analysis, but at this point in the season, there’s no more analysis necessary. All the statistics in the world can’t quantify the pressures of being in a pennant race and the ability to execute when necessary. You just have to win. Since then, they have won 5 out of 6 and have started to really show the resilience that led to their World Series victory just one year ago.

Of course it’s natural to scoreboard watch, but it doesn’t matter. If the Cardinals keep on winning, the standings will take care of themselves as they always do. The Cards are now 2.5 games up with 9 games left to play. This race isn’t over by any means, but every victory and day that goes by makes me more eager for October baseball.

What was particularly encouraging about today was that they scored six runs for the first time since September 1. It’s true that pitching wins championships, but it can’t be a team’s only strength. If the Cards expect to go far in the postseason, this type of offensive production very much needs to continue. Congrats to Pete Kozma by the way on his first home run.

What’s Next: The Cardinals travel to Houston to begin a three-game set with the Astros on Monday night. First pitch is at 7:05 and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest. As always, all pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog. Go Cards.