ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals’ problems getting hits with runners in scoring position has been well documented and it happened again on Friday, when they had only one hit in 11 chances with a runner on either second or third.
That was the only one they needed, however, to beat the Cubs for the second day in a row at Wrigley Field.
Yadier Molina, after the Cubs had walked the bases loaded, singled up the middle to drive in both of the Cardinals’ runs in the sixth inning and reduce their magic number to win the NL Central to six.
After his ninth-inning meltdown on Thursday night, the Cardinals went back to Carlos Martinez to get the final two outs on Friday, which he did, surrounded by a walk.
The win pushed the Cubs five games back of the Cardinals with eight games left in the regular season. The Cardinals also improved to 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2015, when they last won the NL Central.
It was only the second time since 1990 the Cardinals won a game at Wrigley Field when they scored two runs or less and had four or fewer hits. Their only other win in that span was a 2-1 victory when they had only three hits on Sept. 29 of last year.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The three walks to open the sixth inning were part of the total of nine walks the Cardinals received in the game … Molina had three of their four hits, also getting a single in the second and a single in the eighth … Their only other hit was a double by Tommy Edman in the third which left them with runners on second and third with one out, but Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna each flew out, stranding the runners … The Cardianls left 12 runners on base, including six in scoring position … Dexter Fowler drew three walks while Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter each walked twice … The Cardinals are now 7-13 this season in games when they scored two runs, with four of the wins coming against the Cubs.
On the mound: The Cubs only run scored in the second off starter Michael Wacha. Kyle Schwarber doubled to lead off the inning, went to third on a groundout and scored on an error by Edman … Wacha got out of the inning with a double play, one of four turned by the Cardinals in the game … Five relievers combined to hold the Cubs to just four hits over five shutout innings … John Brebbia got Kris Bryant to fly out with the bases loaded to end the seventh … The win went to Ryan Helsley, who allowed one hit in his only inning, the fifth, with Martinez earning his 22nd save.
Key stat: Goldschmidt was 0-of-3 in addition to the two walks, and in eight games so far this season has failed to drive in a run at Wrigley Field. Prior to this season, he had 17 RBIs in 22 career games in Chicago, including five home runs. This is the first year he has played more than four games in a season at Wrigley, where his average for the season is now .226 (7-of-31).
Worth noting: Kolten Wong, who had to leave Thursday night’s game because of a hamstring injury, underwent an MRI on Friday but the results were not immediately available. He is expected to be sidelined at least for a few days … The Cardinals starting pitchers have not allowed more than three runs in a game in their last 18 games, dating back to Sept. 2 … Edman was playing second base for the first time since Sept 1. His error was only the second by a Cardinals’ infielder since Sept. 4 … The Cubs used nine pitchers, needing eight relievers to get the final 13 outs.
Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson will make his first career start against the Cubs on Saturday. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs. He had originally been scheduled to pitch Friday but was moved back a day when Cole Hamels was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday.