Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong hit back-to-back homers off of hard-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth inning, and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals stunned the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 win on Saturday afternoon.
“We don’t give up,” Molina said.
“Today was a perfect example, we’re never going to give up.”
St. Louis (88-67) moved six games ahead of Chicago (82-73) in the National League Central with only seven games to go. The Cubs also fell three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL’s second wild-card spot after the Brewers beat the Pirates later Saturday.
Marcell Ozuna also homered for St. Louis, which won its fourth straight. Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler had two RBIs apiece. With the wind blowing out toward center field, the teams combined for 17 runs on 23 hits. There were seven lead changes.
Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner and Tony Kemp homered for Chicago, which has lost five in a row with its postseason chances on the line. The Cubs’ bullpen has absorbed each of the last four losses, including two late meltdowns by Kimbrel (0-4).
Cardinals right-hander John Gant (11-1) got credit for the win after recording the final out of the eighth. He was one of eight relievers to follow starter Dakota Hudson, who gave up three runs in three innings.
Molina evened the score at 8 on Kimbrel’s first pitch of the game. He clubbed a high fastball over the wall in left-centre field for his ninth homer of the season and 155th of his career.
On Kimbrel’s second pitch, DeJong put the Cardinals on top 9-8. He hammered another fastball an estimated 440 feet to centre for his 28th homer, which added to his career high. Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez pitched around a leadoff walk to secure his 23rd save. He struck out Javier Baez to end the game. The Cubs led 8-7 entering the ninth thanks to a pinch-hit, two-run homer by Kemp in the seventh. It was his first homer in 39 games with Chicago. Kemp’s homer erased a 7-6 Cardinals’ lead that was created by a two-run shot by Ozuna - his 29th of the season - in the seventh.
Chicago trailed 5-3 before a two-run blast by Happ evened the score at 5-5 in the fourth. Hoerner added a solo shot two innings later for his third homer in 13 big league games.
Hiura, Brewers have a
blast in crushing Pirates
Keston Hiura’s two-run home run propelled the host Milwaukee Brewers to a 10-1 win over the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
Hiura’s 18th home run of the season came with two outs in the bottom of the first, on a 3-2 pitch with Yasmani Grandal on base. The Brewers went ahead 2-1 and scored eight more unanswered runs to cruise to their seventh win in eight games.
Brewers co-minor league player of the year Trent Grisham drove in three runs, two on a home run just over the left field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lorenzo Cain went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Ryan Braun added a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth. Grisham and Mike Moustakas drew bases-loaded walks after Cain’s RBI single in the fourth.
The Brewers (85-70) continued their end-of-regular-season surge with their 14th win in the past 16 games, and are 16-4 in September. Playing without star Christian Yelich, who is out for the season with a knee injury, Milwaukee is 9-2 since he got injured.
The Brewers moved three games ahead of the Chicago Cubs, their closest competition for the second National League wild-card spot. They ended their night one game out of the top wild card, held by the Washington Nationals.
The Pirates (65-90) lost catcher Elias Diaz to a right knee injury in the bottom of the fourth inning. It happened as he reached down to catch a pitch from Pirates starter James Marvel. Diaz was helped off the field as the Brewers made a pitching change.
Adam Frazier scored on Hiura’s error in the top of the first for the Pirates’ lone run.
Zach Davies got the start for Milwaukee but pitched just four innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits with two strikeouts. Brent Suter (3-0) tossed two scoreless innings for the win.
Marvel (0-3) was charged with five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Pirates lost their eighth straight game, the longest current losing streak in the majors.
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