Matt Carpenter hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the 10th, and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals held on for a 5-4 win over the host Chicago Cubs on Thursday night to open a crucial four-game series.
Harrison Bader drove in a pair of runs for St. Louis, which coughed up a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning before recovering for the victory. It marked the Cardinals’ first win in seven contests at Wrigley Field this season.
The Cardinals (86-67) maintained a three-game lead in the National League Central division over the Milwaukee Brewers (83-70), who won earlier in the day. Meanwhile, the Cubs (82-71) slipped four games back of St. Louis for first place and one game behind the Brewers for the NL’s second wild-card berth with nine games left in the regular season.
Cardinals left-hander Andrew Miller (5-5) earned the win in relief after getting the last two outs in the ninth. He replaced Carlos Martinez, who gave up three runs and recorded only one out.
Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel (0-3) took the loss after surrendering Carpenter’s home run with one out. It was Kimbrel’s first action since Sept. 1 as he dealt with a sore right elbow.
Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless 10th for his first save.
St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty turned in another masterful performance as he held Chicago to one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out eight as his second-half ERA remained at 1.05 (10 earned runs in 85 1/3 innings).
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Cardinals settled for a 1-0 lead in the third after loading the bases with nobody out. Dexter Fowler grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, which allowed Tommy Edman to score from third base.
Anthony Rizzo homered in his surprise return from a sprained right ankle to even the score at 1 during the bottom of the third.
The Cardinals regained a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Edman ripped a leadoff triple into the corner in right field, and he scored moments later on Bader’s single to center.
A two-run sixth increased the Cardinals’ edge to 4-1. A fielding error by Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber allowed Paul Goldschmidt to score on a single by Yadier Molina. Two batters later, Bader doubled to drive in Paul DeJong.
Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward notched one RBI apiece as the Cubs rallied in the ninth.
Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong exited in the fifth because of a left hamstring injury.