There were plenty of stars Wednesday afternoon as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-3 to avert a three-game sweep at the hands of their longtime rivals.
Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer, Carlos Martinez was effective on the mound and at the plate, Randal Grichuk took away a home run with a sensational catch and Trevor Rosenthal recorded a landmark save.
Most of the highlights occurred before a 3-hour, 21-minute rain delay.
Holliday’s towering 362-foot homer to left against Kyle Hendricks put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 in the first and gave the 36-year-old 1,100 career RBIs.
It was Holliday’s third home run of the season and all have come at Busch Stadium. Holliday logged no homers at Busch in 2015.
Even before Holliday’s home run, Grichuk took two runs away from the Cubs as he raced into left-center, leaped high and pulled down Anthony Rizzo’s drive. The ball was over the wall when Grichuk got his glove under it.
“I’ve watched it 72 times. It pumped me up,” joked Grichuk, who had every opportunity to do just that because of the rain that stopped the proceedings in the Cardinals seventh.
“I kind of knew once I came down and took a step that it was in the glove,” he said. “Just getting to the wall and knowing where the ball’s going to be is tough. But then also having to jump and pull it back over is pretty tough. I wasn’t quite under it. I was surprised I got to it watching the replay.”
I kind of knew once I came down and took a step that it was in the glove. Just getting to the wall and knowing where the ball’s going to be is tough. But then also having to jump and pull it back over is pretty tough. I wasn’t quite under it. I was surprised I got to it watching the replay.
Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk on his first-inning catch that robbed Anthony Rizzo of a two-run homer
Given that the Cardinals lost the first two games of the series 5-0 and 2-1, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged that Grichuk’s catch was all the more important.
“That could have set things in a different direction,” he said. “We needed to get out of that inning. The ball took off; it was taking off early. Randal’s just athletic and made a great play to keep us in a positive role there. He gave our offense a chance to get going without having a deficit to work with.”
Yadier Molina doubled and scored on a wild pitch by Hendricks in the second. Martinez drove in the other run in the inning with a soft single to right that scored Kolten Wong.
“I was able to help my team and help myself. Now everybody thinks I can hit,” said a smiling Martinez, who has a three-game hitting streak and is 3-for-8 with three RBIs this season.
Martinez improved to 3-0 by throwing seven innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out five.
“I felt pretty good. I was able to make my pitches,” he said.
Martinez delighted in Grichuk’s catch.
“It was so big that I’m going to pay him with a dinner in San Diego,” Martinez said.
The Cardinals begin a three-game series against the Padres on Friday.
Rizzo made amends for his earlier frustration by ripping a long solo homer to right against Martinez in the fourth, but all it did was cut the Cardinals’ lead to 4-1.
Chicago rallied to within 4-3 in the eighth, after the long delay, against Seung Hwan Oh, who gave up his first runs of the season after eight scoreless innings. But St. Louis added a run in the eighth against Adam Warren when Molina smoked a single to left that plated Grichuk.
That opened the door for Rosenthal, who struck out the side in the ninth. It was Rosenthal’s fourth save of the season and the 100th of his career.
It’s an honor to have a chance to do it. They trust me out there. To have that accolade is really special.
Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, who became the fifth closer in franchise history to earn 100 saves
Rosenthal, who set a single-season franchise record with 48 saves in 2015, became just the fifth Cardinals closer to reach 100 saves, joining Jason Isringhausen (217), Lee Smith (160), Todd Worrell (129) and Bruce Sutter (127).
“It’s really special to be part of those names in this organization,” said Rosenthal, 25. “It’s an honor to have a chance to do it. They trust me out there. To have that accolade is really special.”
Rosenthal celebrated briefly with his teammates in the clubhouse after the game.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I didn’t know that everybody had any idea. Yeah, they made it special for me and I appreciate all the guys coming together and celebrating. It was really cool.”
Rosenthal showed some of his best stuff of the season, as 10 of his 13 pitches were strikes.
“It was a nice way to watch him do it,” Matheny said. “He was pounding the zone and staying ahead in the count. Just an overpowering, very effortless, easy fastball.”