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Red-garbed Cardinals connect as Matt Carpenter ignites 8th-inning rally to upend Cubs

Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Baseball

Facing their archrivals for the first time since this past July when they were 10 games out, surrendering to the standings, and dismantling their roster, the Cardinals were eager to show the Cubs a new look.

And, no, this wasn’t just about the City Connect uniforms.

Wearing red jerseys in a regular-season game for the first time in 140-plus years of major-league baseball in St. Louis, the Local Nine revisited some more recent history with the style of play that revived their season over the past two weeks. Off the bench and back with a bang into the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, Matt Carpenter delivered a pinch-hit, game-tying single in the eighth inning and primed the bases for a game-winning gush of runs. Brendan Donovan’s two-run, two-out single was the clincher and Lars Nootbaar’s triple the essential exclamation point in a 7-6 victory Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals rallied twice to tie the game before taking their first lead of the game in the eighth inning — just in time for closer Ryan Helsley. The right-hander allowed two runs in the ninth inning and made the final pitch of the game with the potential tying run on third base. He got a groundout to secure his 16th save of the season.

The Cardinals, clawing out of last place, have won nine of their past 11.

Forget the river-inspired pinstripes or even a Nelly-inspired “The Lou” logo, the Cardinals haven’t looked this good, this snazzy in a while.

 

As the teams seesawed toward the eighth inning, one of the most compelling games of the year gave the Cardinals their best chance to claim their first lead against Cubs reliever Mark Leiter Jr. He allowed back-to-back singles to open the eighth, and the Cardinals seemed confident the game would flip. They did not go to a pinch-runner for the potential go-ahead run. Even after catcher Ivan Herrera turned to bunt and pulled back twice, he got a chance to take a swing to change the game. He took a pitch to strike out and Masyn Winn popped up to give Leiter an exit ramp from this traffic jam.

The Cardinals turned to Carpenter, who knows a swing or two about changing games in this long-running rivalry. He was about to enter his 180th game against the Cubs — a team against who he had 97 RBIs. Carpenter drilled a single, but only a deft slide by Alec Burleson made it an RBI. Burleson got his left hand to the plate just ahead of catcher Miguel Amaya’s mitt met Burleson. The Cubs challenged the safe call only to watch how safe Burleson was a few times on the replay.

Donovan followed with the game-winning two-out hit, and Nootbaar tripled into the gap. What seemed to be piling on proved essential when the Cubs rattled off four hits in the ninth.

Starter Miles Mikolas had one inning come apart on him for three runs but authored six innings for a quality start. The Cardinals’ best stretch of baseball in more than a year had a hiccup with one error that allowed the Cubs to take the lead late.

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