Game Report: Cubs 4, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

Jeremy Hazelbaker did not want to be on the wrong side of history Monday night.

As he came to bat leading off the ninth inning at Busch Stadium, the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks was three outs away from completing a no-hitter, something no pitcher has done against the Cardinals in St. Louis in more than 110 years.

“You just want to break it up,” Hazelbaker said about his thoughts as he walked to the plate.

He did exactly that, slamming an 0-2 changeup into the right field seats which kept Hendricks from joining Mal Eason of Brooklyn as the only pitchers ever to no-hit the Cardinals in St. Louis. Eason threw his no-hitter on July 20, 1906.

“You don’t go to the plate thinking the guy’s got a no-hitter,” Hazelbaker said. “You go up thinking about what your plan is, what your approach is, and what you plan to do in that AB.

“It was a good pitch, in a good location, and I was just able to handle it how I wanted to.”

The Cardinals were well aware going into the ninth that they had not come close to a hit, putting only four balls into the outfield through the first eight innings.

“We talk about it,” Hazelbaker said. “It’s not a superstitious thing for us. Everybody knows what’s going on. We’re more aggressive, trying to end it.”

It was the first time the Cardinals had been limited to one hit at home since May 7, 2011, when Daniel Descalso singled leading off the eighth to break up a no-hit bid by the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo.

The loss reduced the Cubs’ magic number for clinching the NL Central to three, meaning it still could happen on Wednesday at Busch Stadium.

Despite the loss, the Cardinals’ remained only a half game out of the second wild-card spot as the Mets also lost, to the Nationals.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
The Cardinals’ only baserunners before the ninth inning came when Yadier Molina walked in the second and Jedd Gyorko drew a two-out walk in the eighth, both coming on four pitches … Prior to Hazelbaker’s homer, his 12th of the season, the Cardinals’ leftfielders had been a combined 1-for-48 in the last 14 games, with the only hit a single by Jose Martinez …The Cardinals tried to generate more offense by hitting Kolten Wong leadoff and Matt Carpenter third, but they were a combined 0-for-7 … Carpenter came out of the game after striking out in the seventh because of a tight back, but the Cardinals do not believe it is serious … Aledmys Diaz made his first appearance since July 31, grounding out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.

On the mound:
Two of the six hits allowed by Mike Leake over six innings were home runs, a solo shot by Ben Zobrist leading off the second and a two-run blast by Dexter Fowler in the fifth. The Cubs got three singles for their other run in the third … The Cubs threatened to add to their lead when they loaded the bases in the ninth, but Dean Kiekhefer got Hendricks to fly to center for the third out.

Key stat:
After Hendricks came out of the game, Aroldis Chapman relieved and earned his 34th save, pitching around a two-out walk to Stephen Piscotty. Chapman extended his streak of scoreless innings against the Cardinals to 28 1/3, dating back to 2011. He has 49 strikeouts over that period, covering 28 appearances.

Of note
: The last time the Cardinals’ only hit in a game came on a home run in the ninth inning was on May 12, 1984, when George Hendrick homered off Mario Soto in Cincinnati … The last one-hitter by the Cubs against the Cardinals came on Sept. 25, 1995, when Bernard Gilkey tripled off Frank Castillo with two outs in the ninth at Wrigley Field … The last one-hitter by the Cubs in St. Louis was on June 28, 1951, when Enos Slaughter got the only hit off Frank Hiller, a single in the fifth inning … Hazelbaker’s homer ended a streak of 101 at-bats by the Cardinals since their last homer … Michael Wacha threw live batting practice before the game and Matt Holliday hit on the field for the first time since breaking his thumb. It would not be surprising if both are activated from the DL later this week … The Cardinals’ affiliate the State College Spikes won the New York-Penn League championship with a 2-1 win over Hudson Valley on Monday night. They are the third short-season farm team of the Cardinals to win their league title this season; a total of 31 players drafted by the Cardinals this year were on one of those three champions; the others were the Johnson City Cardinals and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

Looking ahead:
Jaime Garcia will get the start in the second game of the series Tuesday night against Jason Hammel.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains