Game Report: Cardinals 4, Cubs 2

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals welcomed Aledmys Diaz back into the starting lineup on Tuesday night. They may have got Brandon Moss back too.

Diaz hit a game-tying two-run homer in the second inning and Moss snapped an 18-day drought without a home run with his go-ahead two-run shot in the sixth to lead the Cardinals over the Cubs at Busch Stadium.

The star of the night in between those two homers was Alex Reyes, who bailed Jaime Garcia out of a jam in the second and pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings to get the win the Cardinals needed to eliminate the possibility the Cubs could clinch the division title on their turf on Wednesday.

The win also kept the Cardinals a half-game behind the Mets for the second wild-card spot as another game came off the schedule.

Diaz was making his first start since breaking his right thumb on July 31, and he wasted no time announcing his presence. Dropped to eighth in the lineup, he hit the first pitch he saw from Jason Hammel into the stands in left to pull the Cardinals back into a 2-2 tie.

“It was fun to be able to play the whole game and compete, I was very happy to come back and help the team win,” said Diaz, who was with the team for some of the time he was hurt but also spent part of that time rehabbing in Florida, away from the team.

“It was tough, but you have to belief in the trainers and the plan and the process, and that’s what I focused on,” he said. “I feel good. It gave me a lot of confidence to hit the first pitch for a home run.”

Moss has needed a boost in his confidence lately as well. Even though he has been playing, he came into Tuesday night’s game with just one hit in his last 41 at-bats. The homer was his first since Aug. 25.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
Moss singled with two outs in the second before the Diaz homer, his 15th of the season … Moss also walked in the fourth before he followed a single by Molina with his two-out homer in the sixth, tying Jedd Gyorko for the team lead … Diaz also had a two-hit night, adding an infield single in the sixth … After being out of the original lineup because of a tight back, Matt Carpenter was a late addition but went 0-for-3 with a walk.

On the mound:
Garcia faced just 10 batters and got only five outs, the shortest outing of his 146 career starts. He gave up a leadoff homer to Dexter Fowler and an RBI double by Addison Russell in the second and was pulled from the game after walking Fowler to load the bases with two outs ... Reyes relieved and struck out Kris Bryant, his first of four strikeouts. He allowed only one hit, a single by Bryant in the sixth, but was constantly in trouble because of six walks. He stranded seven runnners in his 4 1/3 innings … Matt Bowman worked two perfect innings in the seventh and eighth, and Kevin Siegrist got the save with a 1-2-3 ninth as Seung Hwan Oh was not available for the fourth day in row because of a sore groin … Combined, the bullpen allowed just one hit in the final 7 1/3 innings.

Key stat: Fowler’s home run was the 24th run Garcia has allowed in the first inning this season in 29 starts, an ERA of 7.44 … In his last five starts, Garcia is 0-4 and has allowed 20 runs in 22 1/3 innings.

Of note: Manager Mike Matheny was non-committal after the game about whether Garcia or Reyes will get the start on Sunday in San Francisco. “We’ll see,” he said … The last Cardinals’ reliever to walk six batters in a game was Steve Dixon on July 16, 1994 … Fowler is the first Cub to ever hit two leadoff homers in St.Louis, having also hit one on Sept. 7 last year off Lance Lynn … The last player to hit two leadoff homers in St. Louis was Rickie Weeks, both in 2010 when he was with Milwaukee … The Cardinals will open their instructional league camp on Thursday in Florida, and among the notable prospects invited are right-hander Johan Oviedo and outfielder Jonatan Machado, the team’s top two international signings this year. The top two draft selections, shortstop Delvin Perez and outfielder Dylan Carlson, also were invited.

Looking ahead:
Carlos Martinez will get the start in the 12:45 p.m. game on Wednesday while Jon Lester is scheduled to start for the Cubs, whose magic number to clinch the NL Central remained at three.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains