Quintana, Cubs beat Cardinals 7-2

Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs hits an RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning on July 22, 2018 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Matt Carpenter’s homer streak is over. Jose Quintana was that good.

Quintana pitched seven effective innings, keeping Carpenter in the ballpark and helping the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 on Sunday.

“Everything kept getting sharper,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We needed him to go more deeply in the game. And he did.”

Quintana (9-6) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out six and walked four in his first start since July 10. The left-hander also matched his career high with 121 pitches after he got an extended break to work with pitching coach Jim Hickey on his changeup and get over some shoulder fatigue.

“We worked on that (changeup) the last couple starts and the last couple bullpen sessions,” Quintana said through a translator. “It was more just having the confidence to throw it, not so much the grip, but it was something I felt like I was able to use in certain spots.”

Kyle Schwarber hit a tiebreaking solo homer off Mike Mayers (2-1) with two out in the sixth inning, and the Cubs broke it open with three runs in the eighth. The NL Central leaders took three of five from the Cardinals in their first series after the All-Star break and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee.

Carpenter’s homer streak ended at six games, a single-season record for St. Louis. The infielder went deep six times in the first four games of the series, including three homers in Friday’s 18-5 victory.

Carpenter ended his streak of 12 consecutive hits for extra bases when he led off the game with a bunt single. Third baseman Kris Bryant joined the Cubs’ outfielders during Carpenter’s at-bat, and Carpenter responded with the bunt to the left side.

“What a teammate,” manager Mike Shildt said. “He goes out and he’s clearly on a streak of consecutive games with a home run and in the first inning he’s gonna lay down a bunt because that’s what the opposition gives us.”

Carpenter advanced on Yadier Molina’s double and scored on Paul DeJong’s sacrifice fly. Carpenter was 1 for 12 against Quintana before the bunt hit.

Quintana intentionally walked Carpenter with runners at second and third in the second inning before striking out Molina looking.

Quintana struck out Carpenter swinging with one on after Yairo Munoz hit an RBI double in the fourth.

“I’m glad the manager had faith in me in a tight game to go out there and go seven innings,” Quintana said.

The Cubs pushed across two runs in the bottom half of the fourth, tying it at 2. Ian Happ smacked an RBI double down the right-field line and Willson Contreras hit a two-out RBI single to left.

Bryant hit an RBI single off Mayers in the seventh, and Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. and Anthony Rizzo each had a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Carpenter popped out with two on in the ninth against Randy Rosario.

Dexter Fowler and Yairo Munoz each had two hits for the Cardinals, who have dropped seven of 11. Miles Mikolas gave up two runs and six hits in five innings.

“He was good super good, had all his pitches going, everything working in a tight ballgame,” Shildt said. “I made a decision to hit for him. Different decision, different ballgame.”