CHICAGO (AP) — Luis Valbuena hit a decisive two-run homer in the seventh inning Friday, and the Chicago Cubs overcame a three-run deficit to hand the St. Louis Cardinals the fourth straight loss, 7-6.
The teams combined for five home runs and 23 hits with a persistent wind at their backs.
The Cardinals tied the score 5-5 on solo homers by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras singled to break the tie in the sixth, but the lead was short-lived.
Kevin Siegrist (1-2) hit Anthony Rizzo with a full-count pitch to lead off the seventh. One batter later, Valbuena sent hit a first-pitch homer into the bleachers in center field.
Justin Grimm (3-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Hector Rondon retired the side in the ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
Cubs starter Travis Wood did well to survive five innings after a rocky start. He allowed five runs – two earned – and seven hits with one walk.
Wood aided his cause with a solo homer off Joe Kelly in the fourth inning, his third of the season.
Kelly lasted 4 2-3 innings allowing eight hits and two walks.
Ryan Sweeney’s three-run homer pulled Chicago even at 3-3 in the second inning. Kelly had not allowed an earned run in 18 1-3 innings against the Cubs before then.
One inning later, Sweeney singled home Valbuena, who had walked, for a 4-3 lead.
St. Louis struck first with three unearned three runs in the opening inning, when Wood was forced to throw 32 pitches largely because of two errors behind him.
Carpenter and Holliday singled, then rookie second baseman Arismendy Alcantara threw away a potential double-play grounder that allowed a run to score.
One out later, Jon Jay hit a two-run double, and when left fielder Chris Coghlan allowed the ball to get past him, the batter advanced to third base on the second error of the inning.
NOTES: One night after his team played a 3-hour, 36-minute, nine-inning game, Chicago manager Rick Renteria said there was no easy solution to quicken the pace. “The only thing that speeds up ballgames is good pitching and good defense,” he said. “There are a lot of times, to be honest with you, when we’re ready to go and we’re waiting for the TV (signal). Sometimes you can’t control the length of ballgames. They are what they are.” … Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson is not expected to miss a start. He left the game in the sixth inning on Thursday because of cramps in his pitching hand. … OF Justin Ruggiano (groin) was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game but was available off the bench once again. … St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller will make his first start since July 10 on Saturday. The veteran had been moved to the bullpen because of a minor back ailment and pitched one innings in his only relief appearance. “I felt a little tired (before), but at the same time, you always want to be out there,” he said. “Right now, I feel really strong. My body is where it needs to be.” … The Cardinals have a 4-6 record since All-Star C Yadier Molina (thumb) was placed on the DL.