Game Report: Cardinals 2, Cubs 1

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Cardinals lined up their pitching rotation to assure that their best two starters this season, Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty, would be in place and ready for the final two games of the year.

Mikolas did his part, and then some, on Saturday to keep the Cardinals’ season alive.

Facing elimination from the playoff chase with a loss, Mikolas allowed just a first-inning unearned run over eight innings to carry the Cardinals to the win, his 18th of the season, which moved him into a tie for the most wins in the National League.

There was nothing Mikolas could do to help the Cardinals later in the day, however, as the Dodgers defeated the Giants to claim at least a wild-card spot and eliminate the Cardinals. 

Saturday’s win snapped a four-game losing streak during which the Cardinals had led in only one inning out of the 36 they played.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals were held to just three hits, two of which drove in their runs. Matt Carpenter, after reaching on catcher’s interference to lead off the fourth, scored on a single by Paul DeJong to tie the game. In the fifth, Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch by Cole Hamels leading off the inning, went to second when Yairo Munoz walked and scored on a single by Carpenter. That hit snapped an 0-of-14 streak by Carpenter with runners in scoring position … The Cardinals’ only other hit was a one-out single by Marcell Ozuna in the sixth … Their last 11 hitters were retired in order.

On the mound: Mikolas scattered five hits over his eight innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six as he finished the year with an 18-4 record and a 2.83 ERA. The only Cubs run scored when Munoz dropped a pop fly in short right field with two outs in the first … Only one runner reached second base after that for the Cubs, Anthony Rizzo after a leadoff single in the fourth, but he was stranded when Mikolas got Kris Bryant to ground into an inning-ending double play … Mikolas retired the last nine hitters he faced before Carlos Martinez came in to pitch the ninth. Martinez needed only five pitches to get the three outs and earn his fifth save.

Key stat: Since the start of the 1952 season, the Cardinals had been held to three hits or less 21 times at Wrigley Field before Saturday and had won only one of those games, a 1-0 victory on June 14. 1986.

Worth noting:
The Chicago run was the first run allowed in the first inning by Mikolas in his last 16 starts … Mikolas finished the regular season with a 10-0 record on the road and became only the third pitcher in team history to go 5-0 in five starts in September, joining Flint Rhem in 1930 and Adam Wainwright in 2014 … The error by Munoz was the 132nd of the year for the Cardinals, the most in the major leagues, and the most they have committed since they also had 132 in 1999.

Looking ahead: Mike Montgomery is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Sunday against Flaherty, who will be making only his second career start at Wrigley.