The Sports Xchange/New York
Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back solo home runs in the fifth inning as the Cubs beat St. Louis 5-4 on Saturday, a result that temporarily stalled the Cardinals from clinching a playoffs-berth.
The Cardinals could have clinched a playoff spot with a victory and they put the tying run on first in the ninth before shortstop Addison Russell made a diving grab and flip for a forceout at second to deny them that opportunity.
They still became the first team to earn a post-season place following Arizona’s 6-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. Saturday’s match was again tense, a day after Cubs manager Joe Maddon criticized Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle for hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.
Both benches were warned after the Cubs’ Fernando Rodney hit second baseman Kolten Wong in the eighth inning, the second time Wong was hit.
Hector Rondon hit pinch hitter Greg Garcia in the ninth, resulting in Rondon and Maddon being ejected. Maddon said all were unintentionally hit.
“I know nobody wants to believe me,” Maddon said. “You’re not going to believe me. All the Cardinal Nation, god bless you, you’re not going to want to believe me.”
The Cardinals had the opportunity to clinch the game with a ninth-inning rally when Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run off Zac Rosscup to make it 5-3. Center fielder Tommy Pham and right fielder Jason Heyward then hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with none out.
Reliever Pedro Strop then struck out shortstop Jhonny Peralta and while catcher Yadier Molina made it a one-run game with a sacrifice fly, Strop got Stephen Piscotty to hit into a forceout at second to end the game and earn his third save.
“Earlier in the year, we were not able to hold on against these guys late,” Maddon said.
“I said in the beginning of the year they were out-experiencing us. Right now, we’re catching up in that regard. Give them a lot of credit because they always fight to the last drop.”
Brewers lose eighth straight, two players
A bad week at the end of a bad season got even worse for the Milwaukee Brewers as they dropped a 9-7 decision to the Cincinnati Reds and lost infielder Elian Herrera and outfielder Shane Peterson to injury on Saturday.
“It was a rough night,” said manager Craig Counsell, whose team has lost eight successive games and dropped back into last place in the National League Central. The Brewers had watched 2-0 and 6-3 leads disappear before outfielder Domingo Santana put them up 7-6 with an RBI single in the seventh inning.
Right-hander Tyler Cravy came on to work the eighth for Milwaukee, when left fielder Skip Schumaker dropped a bloop single into shallow left that let the tying run cross.
Herrera and Peterson, along with shortstop Jean Segura, all charged for the ball, which dropped among them as they collided.
Segura walked away unharmed, but Peterson and Herrera required the attention of the Brewers’ medical staff during a 12-minute delay that ended with Herrera being taken off the field by an ambulance cart.
“Game was on the line, neither of us thought we could get to it so we didn’t want to call it,” Peterson said.
“It’s kind of one of those plays. I haven’t seen the replay. Things kind of just happened. Everybody was right there and trying to make the catch.”
X-rays revealed Herrera suffered only a deep bruise to his right thigh and Peterson suffered a bruised right knee.
“To get a negative X-ray, I know his spirits are lifted,” Counsell said. “It’s a right thigh contusion but it’s pretty significant. He got hit pretty good.”
Cravy (0-7) followed by intentionally walking first baseman Joey Votto, who had a two-run home run and a double already, and second baseball Brandon Phillips followed with a bloop single to put the Reds ahead.
“We battled back,” Counsell said. “We were a little unfortunate tonight, but we battled back and took the lead.
“The eighth inning ... you throw your hands up on three bloop hits and a ground ball.”
Todd Frazier hit his 35th home run of the season in the sixth off Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann, who allowed six runs, eight hits and a walk in five-plus innings. He struck out four.
“I didn’t even think I got it,” said Frazier, who became just the second Reds player to get 40 doubles and 35 home runs in a season.
“I hit it and thought, ‘Oh, no!’ It is a pretty cool feat. Just me and Frank Robinson to do that in a Reds uniform. That’s awesome.”
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