Game Report: Cubs 8, Cardinals 4

The Cardinals came into Friday’s game in Chicago knowing they needed help if they wanted their season to extend beyond Sunday.

Now, they need a lot of help.

The Cubs scored two runs in the first and gradually increased the lead in handing the Cardinals their fourth consecutive loss at the worst possible time of the season.

In what could have been Adam Wainwright’s final start as a Cardinal, he gave up four runs in five innings. The Cubs blew the game open with three runs off Jordan Hicks in the eighth, aided by a couple of questionable pitch calls from home plate umpire Adam Hamari.

The loss left the Cardinals 1 ½ games behind the Dodgers for the second wild-card spot before the Dodgers’ game Friday night in San Francisco. The Dodgers are also chasing the Rockies for the NL West title.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals were just 2-of-12 with runners in scoring position, the two hits an RBI single from Marcell Ozuna in the sixth, when they scored their first two runs, and a pinch-hit RBI infield single by Tyler O’Neill in the ninth, when they scored their other two runs … Matt Carpenter was 0-of-4, leaving five runners on base, and is just 1-of-13 during the four-game losing streak … The Cardinals trailed 2-0 and had runners on second and third with one out in the third when Carpenter flied out before Jose Martinez also flied out, ending the inning and stranding both runners.

On the mound
: After giving up two runs in the first inning, Wainwright retired nine batters in a row before Kris Bryant homered with one out in the fourth. A sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo drove in other run in the fifth off Wainwright, who struck out seven. If it was his last game as a Cardinal, Wainwright’s final pitch was a curveball which struck out Javier Baez … An error by Jedd Gyorko led to an unearned run in the seventh before Hicks struggled in the eighth, hitting one batter and walking two, even if some of the calls on borderline pitches did not go his way.

Key stat: During their four-game losing streak, the Cardinals have led only once at the end of an inning in the 36 innings they have played in those games. They scored three runs in the sixth inning on Monday to take a 4-3 lead in the first game against the Brewers before Milwaukee tied the game in the next inning.

Worth noting: The Cardinals committed three more errors, including a pair of throwing errors by Gyorko. Kolten Wong was charged with the other error … Bud Norris had to come out of the game after facing two batters in the seventh because of tightness in his left hamstring … Ozuna appeared to re-aggravate his right shoulder on an attempted throw to the plate in the seventh inning but stayed in the game … Wainwright fell to 11-3 in 20 career starts at Wrigley Field.

Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Saturday against Cole Hamels. The game begins at 12:05 p.m.