It's as if the St. Louis Cardinals are playing games with their fans, seeing how far they can go to prove they're no good while still remaining in contention for the post season.
They spent a week failing to average two runs a game. Then, after dropping the first two of four games against the last place Chicago Cubs, they suddenly turned on the offense and scored an average 11 1/2 runs in the last two contests.
But, of course, they couldn't uncork a nine-run outburst Sunday until they fell behind 5-0 in the second inning.
Some shaky pitching by starting pitcher John Lackey combined with a defensive error opened the flood gates for a big inning early for Chicago.
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But Matt Holliday, seemingly waking up refreshed from his summer long offensive slumber, cranked a solo home run to make the score 5-1 in the fourth. In the fifth frame, after Kolten Wong hit a solo shot to make the score 5-2 and Matt Carpenter "doubled" in another run on a ball that glanced off Cubs centerfielder Arismendy Alcantara to make the score 5-3, Holliday appeared to tie the game.
He hit a blast toward the left field bullpen that he apparently thought was going to leave the yard, judging from his slow start out of the batters box. But the ball bounced off the top of the wall and came back onto the playing field to leave the Cubs ahead 5-4.
Chicago scored a run on a solo homer in the seventh to make the score 6-4. But St. Louis rallied in the bottom of the inning when Matt Carpenter walked and Holliday was hit by a pitch. Jhonny Peralta drove in Carpenter with a single then Yadier Molina drove in Holliday to tie the game.
The Cardinals had runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom of the eighth and pinch hitter Matt Adams struck out. The Cubs loaded the bases with an intentional walk of Carpenter and then Randal Grichuk struck out.
But with two outs Holliday lined a ball off the Cubs pitcher's foot that plated two runs to put St. Louis ahead 8-6. Then Peralta drove in another run to make the difference three runs. That was more than enough for closer Trevor Rosenthal who -- again -- allowed the leadoff batter to reach before settling down and ending the game without further excitement.
The big comeback was made sweeter by the fact that it paid off by moving St. Louis into a tie for first when Milwaukee lost to the San Francisco Giants.
After their lousy last week and a half, the Cardinals finally chased down Milwaukee with two wins over the Cubs and distances themselves from the Pittsburgh Pirates who fell 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
Now, the question is, can the Redbirds win a series against a tough Pittsburgh team and move into first place by themselves?