ST. LOUIS -- Following a trio of walk-off wins over the weekend, the Cardinals rolled their winning streak to seven by erasing an early five-run deficit and snatching a 10-9 victory from the Cubs in Monday's series opener at Busch Stadium. The win improved the Cardinals to 19-6, marking their best start through 25 games in modern franchise history.
"If any team had the right to maybe shut down after this weekend and how everything played out, this team could have, and that wasn't at all what it was," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think I said yesterday that 'wow' was my explanation. I don't even know what to give you today because, to me, that's just a sign of a tough team, a mentally tough team that is going to be relentless. I hope that's something that we never lose."
St. Louis capped its comeback with a four-run seventh that featured a game-tying single by Kolten Wong and go-ahead two-run double by reserve catcher Tony Cruz. Cubs reliever Pedro Strop got into the mess by allowing the three batters he faced to reach. It marked the first time since Aug. 31, 2014, that the Cardinals had come back from a five-run deficit. The Cubs, who have lost three in a row for the first time this year, were on the wrong end of that game, as well.
"He's been outstanding -- he is outstanding," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said of Strop. "It was a tough night for him. It was three out of four [games] for him right there. But I liked the matchups. That was our best matchup, was him against those three hitters."
Chicago pounced on Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez to score five runs -- as many as the club had tallied in its previous series -- in the first. Martinez threw 42 pitches in the inning and likely would have not been left in to finish it had the Cardinals not been short on relief help. The Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate against him in the frame. More >
Cubs lefty Travis Wood couldn't answer with a shutdown inning, however, and allowed a grand slam to Mark Reynolds in the bottom half of the first. Wood did go on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters he faced, but was pulled after allowing three straight singles to open the sixth. The Cards scored twice in that inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cruz caps comeback: Filling in for starting catcher Yadier Molina, who was fatigued following recent usage, Cruz delivered a go-ahead two-run double to punctuate the Cardinals' four-run seventh. His hit, the fourth of the inning for the Cardinals, was only the second extra-base hit Cruz has tallied this season.
"I don't get to play every day, so to come up and be able to contribute to a win is nice," Cruz said. "A lot had to happen before I came up in that situation and got that knock. This team, it's just amazing how we grinded out today's game."
Start me up: The Cubs had scored nine runs in the first inning in their first 23 games this season, and took a 5-0 lead in the first on Monday, taking advantage of Martinez's wildness. Martinez walked the bases loaded with one out, then served up run-scoring hits to Miguel Montero, Starlin Castro, Chris Denorfia and Wood. Martinez needed 42 pitches to get through the first, not what the Cardinals needed after three extra-inning games.
Reynolds goes grand: The Cardinals answered the Cubs' five-run first with a fruitful first inning of their own, punctuated by Reynolds' fourth career grand slam. Reynolds, making the spot start at first base against the lefty Wood, deposited an 0-1 fastball into the visiting bullpen to give the Cardinals their first grand slam since Wong hit one on June 3, 2014.
"Your team puts up five in the first, you can't give it back," Wood said. "That's all on me. … I left a pitch in the zone for Reynolds to hit and he did what he's supposed to do with it. It's a shame that happened. Even if he doesn't hit a home run there, and they only get two [runs], we still win the ballgame."
Putting on the Riz:Anthony Rizzo belted his second home run in his last three games when he connected in the second. Rizzo also swiped his seventh base of the season in the sixth to set a career high in steals. The first baseman, who was 6-for-20 in the previous seven games, now has scored a run in 10 of his last 13 games. More >
"We played a really good game, we worked at-bats, we got their starter out of the game. Give them credit, they came back. It was not one of our better pitching nights." -- Maddon
"Every day is a lesson. Tonight was a little difficult, but I know that I can compete and know that I can be very good. -- Martinez, after allowing seven runs over 3 2/3 innings
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Chicago's Kris Bryant drew four walks in the game, a career high. The last time a Major League player walked four times in one of his first 16 games was Felipe Crespo on May 5, 1996. The last Cubs player to walk four times in a game was Rizzo on April 30, 2014, at Cincinnati.
The Cardinals have won seven straight for the first time in Matheny's managerial tenure. Their last winning streak of this length came in July 2010, when the club won eight in a row.
Wood struck out five, and moved into seventh place among Cubs all-time left-handed pitchers with 440 strikeouts. Reynolds' grand slam was only the second off Wood. Carlos Lee also hit a slam off the lefty on July 17, 2012.
Cubs outfielder Denorfia had to leave the game in the third when he aggravated his left hamstring. Denorfia started the season on the disabled list because of the hamstring strain, and was not activated until April 17. He will be placed on the DL. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will make his fifth start of the season on Tuesday when the Cubs face the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in the second game of their four-game series. Hendricks faced the Cardinals three times last season, and was 0-1 with a 3.06 ERA. In his only outing at Busch on Aug. 29, he gave up two earned runs over six innings. Rookie Jorge Soler is expected back in the lineup after getting a breather on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT.
Cardinals: Tyler Lyons becomes the latest candidate to audition for Adam Wainwright's rotation spot as he makes his first start of the season for the Cardinals on Tuesday. Lyons has made 12 previous spot starts for the club over the last two seasons. Molina is expected to return to the lineup as Lyons' batterymate. More >