Game Report: Cubs 2, Cardinals 1 (11 innings)

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals will play a game Friday night at Busch Stadium unlike any they have played in seven years.

For the first time since the closing days of the 2010 season, the Cardinals will play after being eliminated from the playoff race. Their loss to the Cubs Thursday night extinguished their last hope that they could tie the Rockies and force a playoff for the second wild-card spot.

They fell four games behind Colorado with just three to play.

“I always stand up here and tell you I think we’re just a few games or something happening away from having things work out and we can still achieve what we want to achieve,” said manager Mike Matheny Thursday night. “This is the first time I have to stand up here and say that’s not going to happen.

“We fell short of what we wanted to do.”

This is the first time since 2007-2008 the Cardinals will spend October at home for the second year in a row.

The Cubs scored the go-ahead run in the 11th inning. With one out, Kyle Schwarber – one of just two semi-regulars in the Cubs lineup - reached on a swinging bunt and went to second when pitcher Matt Bowman made a wild throw to first. He then scored when Taylor Davis, making his second major-league start, lined a ball past third base and into the left-field corner for a double. It was the second hit of his career and first RBI.

“Literally the coolest thing I’ve ever done, other than marrying my wife,” said Davis, who signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2011 and worked his way up through the organization. “Being able to win a game, especially against this team and in this park, it’s so cool. It was incredible. They (the Cardinals) probably hate me and rightfully so.”

Davis had been 0-of-4 going into that at-bat and had struck out three times, which he said was the first time he had done that in his professional career.

“I went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs,” he said.

The Cardinals thought they had tied the game in the bottom of the inning, but Leonys Martin leaped above the center field wall to take a home run away from Paul DeJong and end the game.

“It kind of summed up the year when he robbed it,” DeJong said. “The rug was taken out from under us. I thought it was gone. He timed it perfect. I’m still kind of in shock.”

The Cardinals finished the year with a 5-14 record against the Cubs, the most games the Cubs have won against the Cardinals since they went 15-3 in 1978. The Cardinals lost 11 of the final 13 games against Chicago this season.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals struck out 17 times, nine coming in the first five innings against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Matt Carpenter struck out four times while Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez each fanned three times … The Cardinals’ only run scored in the sixth when Tommy Pham singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Fowler’s groundout … Pham had two stolen bases, giving him 25 for the season.

On the mound: Lance Lynn made what likely will be his final start for the Cardinals. He allowed one run in five innings, a first-inning homer by Ian Happ, before having to come out of the game with a tight back … The Cardinals got five scoreless innings out of their bullpen before the winning run scored against Bowman in the 11th.

Key stat: The 17 strikeouts increased the Cardinals’ total for the season to 1,322, breaking the franchise record of 1,318 set last year.

Worth noting: With nothing at stake, it’s unlikely catcher Yadier Molina or Carpenter will play this weekend. As of Thursday night Molina had not cleared the concussion protocol tests. Carpenter has been bothered for a majority of this season with a sore shoulder … Kolten Wong and Adam Wainwright also are dealing with issues that probably will keep them from playing this weekend … The opponent this weekend, the Milwaukee Brewers, still have a chance of catching the Rockies. They are two games behind Colorado with the three games to play.

Looking ahead: John Gant will make his second start in the series opener on Friday night while Chase Anderson will start for the Brewers. Matheny said he is not ready to announce the pitching plans for the final two games of the season.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains