ST. LOUIS — Closer Trevor Rosenthal was up to his first five-out challenge of the season.
Rosenthal got the final two outs in the eighth inning and worked a spotless ninth Thursday, nailing down his 11th save in 12 opportunities as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-3. It was Rosenthal's second save of more than three outs.
Rosenthal took over for Kevin Siegrist with the bases loaded and one out, allowing only a sacrifice fly. The ninth inning proved to be a breeze as Rosenthal set down Welington Castillo, Emilio Bonifacio and Ryan Kalish.
"It was good to come in there and help Siegrist out and get the win," Rosenthal said. "I'm just trying to do what I can to keep the lead and help us get the win. That's what's important."
The eighth wasn't without its difficulties for Rosenthal.
With one out, Siegrist walked Anthony Rizzo, allowed a single to Starlin Castro and walked Luis Valbuena.
Rosenthal gave up Junior Lake's sacrifice fly to right that got the Cubs within 5-3, but walked Mike Olt. Pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz then broke his bat, grounding out weakly to second.
Rosenthal's longest previous save was four outs April 3 at Cincinnati.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, intent on giving another day of rest to eighth-inning specialist Carlos Martinez, said he had no reservations about using Rosenthal prior to the ninth.
"The thought process is we need big outs right there," Matheny said. "You're also looking at a bullpen that's pretty beat up. It's an opportunity for Siegrist to at least get us one out. It wasn't his best day, but he also had a lot of close misses.
"The option (in the eighth) is you bring in Carlos and then we have all three of them that are used again. This gives Trevor an opportunity to come in and maybe get some of it out in the eighth and come sharp in the ninth. He was good right from the top in the eighth --one of the best (games) we've seen him as far as how he made his first few pitches. He was dialed in."
Rosenthal was coming off his first blown save of the season Tuesday, permitting a ninth-inning run in a game the Cardinals finally won 4-3 in 12.
He was eager to get back on the mound, but acknowledged a somewhat different mindset entering in the eighth.
"Especially there with the bases loaded and one out," Rosenthal said. "We're trying to be ready first pitch and hopefully get something working quickly. You don't have so much time to mess around."
Matheny knew Rosenthal was eager to bounce back after his first blown save.
"He's got the closer's mentality," Matheny said. "He's got a short memory and he believes, which he should, that if it didn't work out, somebody got lucky. Trevor comes out there with a lot of confidence. He had a great demeanor. You could tell he couldn't wait to get back out there."
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took exception to being brushed back by Neal Ramirez in the eighth. Molina turned and gestured toward the Cubs dugout, and both benches were warned.
Chicago went up and in two other times on Molina, who was unavailable for comment after the game.
"You get one mistake that sails and flies up by your head," Matheny said. "You're not happy about it, but when you see a number of them happen that way, you start to take it pretty personal, and I don't blame him.
"We're not trying to pitch anybody up and in like that, and then you start talking about around the head. Nobody else should, either. Guys need to stand up for themselves and we need to stand up for them."
The Cardinals on Thursday announced that the start times for their Aug. 30 day-night doubleheader against the Cubs will be 1:15 and 7:15 p.m.
The first game will be the makeup for the rainout Wednesday. The second game will start one hour later than previously scheduled.
Braves on deck
The Atlanta Braves make their first trip to St. Louis over the weekend and here are the pitching pairings:
*Lance Lynn (4-2, 3.83 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (4-0, 1.99 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Friday.
* Shelby Miller (5-2, 3.22 ERA) vs. Aaron Harang (4-3, 2.98 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
* Jaime Garcia (no statistics) vs. Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.70 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Sunday. Garcia will make his first start of the season.