The Cardinals won a big one Friday night on the strength of a dramatic Matt Holliday homer on the bottom of the ninth.
The blast not only gave the Birds a 3-2 victory. It guaranteed that the Cubs could only gain one game at best in the standings in the pivital matchup between the teams with only two weeks to play in the season.
While it was Holliday's first taste of the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, a veteran of the battles was a major factor in the game. With Ted Lilly pitching dominantly, former Cub Mark DeRosa pulled a ball just inside the third base bag for a triple that scored Ryan Ludwick from first base. DeRosa then scored the tying run against his former team when Brendan Ryan battled Lilly before driving a long fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly.
Matt Holliday and Brenan Ryan react following Holliday's game winning homer over the Cubs. AP photo.
John Smoltz gave Cardinals fans a scare in the first when he was hit hard and often in his first action following a missed start due to shoulder tendonitis. But he managed to get out of the inning with only two runs allowed and matched Lilly zero for zero until the Redbirds offense could get the team back in the game.
Ryan Franklin came in to hold the Cubs scoreless in the top of the ninth with his first easy inning in a couple of weeks. He was rewarded with the victory.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Holliday.
Lowlight: The home plate umpire was terrible. It looked like Matt Holliday was going to lose it in what eventually became the deciding at bat when the ump called an obviously low pitch a strike. Holliday spun away from the plate in anger and looked briefly like he might get himself tossed. Batters and pitchers on both sides reacted similarly to the inconsistent strike zone all night long.