ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals had five hitters in Tuesday’s lineup with 32 or more RBIs.
With Anthony Rizzo on the bench, the Cubs had no one with 30.
On paper, it looked like a lop-sided match-up at Busch Stadium.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, the Cubs faced St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, who leads the league with 10 victories and has won his last five starts.
But Wainwright struggled after retiring the first two hitters. Back-to-back doubles by Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs the lead, before back-to-back home runs by Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom made it 4-0.
Jeff Samardzija started for the Cubs, seeking his first win since his complete game shutout of the White Sox on May 27. He took a three-hit shutout into the sixth inning before Carlos Beltran’s two-out home run off the right field foul pole made it a 4-1 game.
Closer Kevin Gregg entered with one out in the ninth after back-to-back singles brought the tying run to the plate. Yadier Molina’s RBI single cut the deficit to two runs, but David Freese grounded into a controversial double play. Darwin Barney flipped to Starlin Castro for the force at second, and umpire Fieldin Culbreth called pinch-runner Shane Robinson out for interference on his takeout slide of Castro.
St. Louis came in with a 45-25 record, the best in the majors, and a run differential of +105.
“They have a lot of good players,” manager Dale Sveum said. “They have three parts of the game that is the best in the league- pitching, hitting and fielding. They have really good players and really good veteran players that are producing at a high level, like (Matt) Holliday and (Carlos) Beltran, and they keep producing from their minor league system.
“They’re getting dominating performances out of (the homegrown position players)… Then you have these pitchers coming up that are front-line starters or relievers doing the job. (Edward) Mujica comes in and does a great job in (closing). They have so many tangibles right now…. And when you hit .340 with men in scoring position, you’re going to be 20 games over.”