Game Report: Cubs 4, Cardinals 1

The Cardinals arrived in Chicago on Friday with the hope that they could close the gap on the Cubs in the NL Central race over the weekend.

That’s not going to happen.

They couldn’t solve Kyle Hendricks and Albert Almora Jr. drove in two runs to lead the Cubs over the Cardinals on Saturday at Wrigley Field to ensure that no matter what happens in the final game of the series on Sunday the deficit will be greater than it was when the Cardinals got to town – and with three games knocked off the dwindling schedule.

That margin was three games before the Cubs’ win on Friday and increased to five with Saturday’s loss, when the Cardinals were shut out until Matt Carpenter hit an opposite-field homer with two outs in the eighth inning.

The back-to-back losses against the Cubs also hurt the Cardinals in the wild card race, preventing them from gaining any ground on the Rockies. They have 14 games left in the season, including four against the Cubs next week in St. Louis.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had just five hits before Carpenter’s homer, all of them singles. They had runners on first and third with no outs in the third before a sacrifice by Michael Wacha and a walk to Carpenter loaded the bases for Tommy Pham, but he grounded into a double play … The Cardinals lost another baserunner when Jose Martinez was picked off first before Dexter Fowler had the first of his two singles … Fowler, playing his first game in a week after hurting his knee, was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the ninth inning. An X-ray taken after the game was negative but it isn’t known if he will be able to play on Sunday … The Cardinals were 0-of-2 with runners in scoring position and in the first two games of the series are a combined 1-of-5.

On the mound: Wacha retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth, when the Cubs scored twice on RBI singles by Almora and Ian Happ … Almora also doubled in a run in the fifth following back-to-back two-out walks to Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras that took a combined 20 pitches … Ryan Sherriff retired Jon Jay to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh … The final Cubs’ run came on a pinch-hit homer by Addison Russell off Tyler Lyons leading off the eighth.

Key stat: The Cardinals fell to 1-7 at Wrigley Field this year, with the only win coming in the game when they scored nine runs in the eighth inning on July 21. They have never won less than two games in a season in Chicago since winning one of four games in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The last time they won only twice at Wrigley Field was in 2008. Their worst season ever at Wrigley Field was in 1918, when they went 0-9.

Worth noting: Contreras was suspended for two games for his antics on Friday, when he was ejected, but he appealed the suspension and thus was allowed to play on Saturday. There was no word on when his appeal will be decided … Carpenter has hit three homers since pledging a $10,000 donation for each homer he hits the rest of the season to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in his hometown of Houston. That pledge was matched by Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals, meaning $90,000 has been raised thus far … Greg Garcia started at second base in place of Kolten Wong, who had to leave Friday’s game because of more issues with his lower back. It’s not known if Wong will be able to play on Sunday.

Looking ahead: Lance Lynn will start the final game of the series for the Cardinals on Sunday while Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs in the 1:20 p.m. game.