Thus, after the St. Louis Cardinals star let a pitch in the dirt
from reliever Carlos Martinez get past him with two outs in the
seventh inning Sunday, allowing the Chicago Cubs to score the tying
run, all he wanted was a chance at redemption.
He got his opportunity with the score still 3-3 in the top of the
ninth. Molina, who was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup to
try to jump-start the Cardinals' offense, came to the plate with the
bases loaded and two outs.
Cubs reliever Hector Rondon got ahead in the count 1-2, but Molina
hit a two-seam fastball up the middle, just past diving shortstop
Starlin Castro, driving in Randal Grichuk and Mark Ellis to break
the tie. The Cubs scored a run in the bottom of the ninth, but St.
Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around trouble to secure the
Cardinals' 5-4 win.
Molina said he got a little lucky against Rondon (0-1) because the
Cubs' defense was playing him as a pull hitter, which created more
space up the middle.
"I'm so grateful," Molina said of his go-ahead hit. "When you mess
up earlier in the game, you want to be there for your team at the
end. I hoped I would come through. It's a good feeling now."
The win was only the second in six games for the Cardinals (16-16).
Molina couldn't explain how Martinez's curveball eluded him to tie
the game. He thought he was in the right position and was ready to
block the pitch. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Molina is "a
man, not a machine" and that he can't be perfect behind the plate.
"(Molina) does a good job of not wearing his emotions and (showing)
how frustrating that is for him," Matheny said. "It's hard to count
the number of balls he keeps in front of him, the number of runs he
saves. It's something we don't take for granted."
Rosenthal earned his eighth save in as many chances despite giving
up a run and letting the potential tying run reach base. Cubs center
fielder Emilio Bonifacio drew a walk with two outs and advanced to
second on defensive indifference. Third baseman Luis Valbuena
followed with an RBI double to cut St. Louis' lead to 5-4. However,
first baseman Anthony Rizzo grounded out to end the game.
Kevin Siegrist (1-1) got the win after striking out the side in the
Rondon issued a one-out walk to Grichuk and gave up a single to
Ellis to set up a prime opportunity for St. Louis. Rondon struck out
center fielder Peter Bourjos, but he walked third baseman Matt
Carpenter on four pitches to load the bases, bringing up Molina.
Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel surrendered three runs on seven
hits with five strikeouts and two costly walks. Both walks, which
came with two outs in the second and third innings, led to runs that
helped the Cardinals take a 3-0 lead.
"Those hurt me pretty good," Hammel said of the walks. "You just
can't do that. Two-out walks, two quick outs, put a guy on base and
bad things happen. Just trying to find the command tonight. It
really wasn't there. It was a grind."
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn held the Cubs to two runs on three hits
in his six innings. He struck out five but walked four.
The Cubs (11-18) tied the game at 3 on Martinez's wild pitch with
two outs in the seventh inning. Valbuena hit a two-out triple, and
Martinez intentionally walked Rizzo to bring up Castro. Martinez
threw a curveball that Molina couldn't corral, allowing Valbuena to
score easily to tie the game. Martinez struck out Castro to strand
the go-ahead run at second.
[to top of second column]
Amid 40-degree temperatures at Wrigley Field, command issues plagued
both starting pitchers, especially Hammel.
Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta walked and advanced on a wild
pitch with two outs in the second, and he scored on Grichuk's triple
to put St. Louis on top. Ellis, the Cardinals' second baseman,
followed with an RBI double.
In the third, St. Louis extended its lead. Left fielder Matt
Holliday walked with two outs. First baseman Matt Adams drove home
Holliday with a double, but Hammel limited the damage by striking
out right fielder Allen Craig to end the inning.
Hammel helped himself in the fourth inning against Lynn. With one
out, left fielder Ryan Kalish reached on a single, catcher John
Baker walked, and both advanced on second baseman Darwin Barney's
groundout. Hammel connected on a fastball for a two-run single to
right field, cutting the Cardinals' lead to 3-2.
It was Hammel's first RBIs since 2011, when he drove in four that
season as a member of the Colorado Rockies.
"The hit was nice," Hammel said. "I was just trying to get the foot
down early and be on time. I was still late, but it found a hole.
(Lynn) provided most of the distance with his velocity."
Lynn found trouble in the third when his command suddenly became a
problem. He retired Barney on a fly ball to start the inning, then
walked Hammel, Bonifacio and Valbuena to load the bases. Valbuena
came back from an 0-2 count to draw the walk, and it set up a
bases-loaded opportunity for hot-hitting Rizzo.
Lynn got Rizzo to fly out to shallow center field, and Castro swung
at the first pitch he saw, flying out to right field to end the
"We had him on the ropes, but we weren't able to do anything," Cubs
manager Rick Renteria said. "Guys kept grinding it out, we just fell
a little bit short."
NOTES: Cardinals RHP Jason Motte (Tommy John surgery) threw a
scoreless inning Sunday for Double-A Springfield. He threw 13
pitches and struck out all three batters he faced. ... St. Louis LHP
Jaime Garcia (left shoulder) exited early from his rehab start
Sunday at Springfield. While batting, Garcia was hit by a pitch on
his left elbow, and he taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary
X-rays. In his two innings, Garcia allowed two runs on three hits,
including a home run. He walked one batter and struck out two. ...
The teams wore throwback jerseys designated after the 1929 models.
That year, the Cubs reached the World Series.
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