Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia bucked his trend of pitching poorly on the road with a stellar performance Monday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
But closer Jason Motte got into trouble with a pair of walks to put the winning run on base. And then former Cardinal Joe Mather -- whose big looping swing had no business making contact with Motte's heat -- came back from an 0-2 count to single up the middle to lose the game 3-2.
The Wee Bears scored a run against Garcia in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly. But he put up six consecutive zeros after that and held the fort while the Redbirds scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning to take the lead.
Skip Schumaker led off with a single and Matt Holliday doubled to make it second and third with no one out. Carlos Beltran grounded to second to push the runners up and tie the score at one. Then, after a tense moment when David Freese was hit in the hand with a pitch, Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly to center to put St. Louis up 2-1.
The Cardinals had a chance to break the game open with two on and one out in the top of the eighth. But Beltran hit a hump-backed liner that Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro was able to leap and catch and the relay to second for a double play.
Garcia allowed six hits and walk while striking out four Chicago hitters. He avoided any serious trouble. And when he did let a man get on base, he seemed to be able to get a ground ball on command.
He left in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and a man on first. After Molina nearly picked off the baserunner he took off for second on a pitch-out. Molina's throw beat the runner by plenty. But second baseman Tyler Greene dropped the ball to extend the inning. Reliever Mitchell Boggs lost the batter to a walk and suddenly Castro -- the most dangerous Chicago pitcher -- was at the plate with the tying run in scoring position and the potential winning run on first. But Boggs got a grounder to short to end the threat.
The Cardinals had a chance for some insurance in the top of the ninth when Freese got on with a swinging bunt. The Cardinals tried to employ a hit and run play and Molina hit the ball right on the screws. But it carried to Chicago right fielder David DeJesus and turned into a double play.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Garcia.
Cardinals Play of the Game: N/A
Lowlight: Motte went an awfully long way out of his way to put the winning run on base and then blow an 0-2 count to a hitter who was a very poor match against him.