"Give them credit," Maddon said of the Cardinals. "We've lost several tough games in this ballpark. We have to get over the hump, and it's more a mental hump than a physical hump. I believe in our guys, I believe our guys can play with these guys. I know their record is better than ours. There's a long way to go and we're going to get it done here."
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 49-24, and have a 9 1/2 game lead over the third-place Cubs (39-33) in the National League Central. St. Louis also is now 27-7 at home.
"We have to win these games, especially when we're ahead late like that," said Chicago starter Jake Arrieta, who left with a 2-1 lead after seven solid innings. "At the end of the day, they found a way to get it done and we didn't. We have to learn something from it and come out tomorrow a little better prepared."
Is that the difference between the Cubs and Cardinals? Arrieta quickly pointed out that the Cubs have played 31 one-run games now -- and are 18-13 in those games -- and that they've also been able to celebrate walk-off wins (nine so far). Chicago is 8-4 in extra-inning games as well.
"We know what the Cardinals are doing," Arrieta said. "We know we have to do some things a little better to kind of trim that lead [in the division]. At the end of the day, it's about coming out and trying to win the game that day and not worrying too far into the future. We have more than enough time to put together some good stretches to kind of minimize that number a little bit."
The Cubs certainly celebrate their walk-off wins in grand fashion with pulsating music, strobe lights and smoke. On Friday, the visitor's clubhouse was quiet.
"Those are 'team builder' games," Baxter said of walk-off wins. "You get a lot of experience from those and hopefully it pays dividends later in the year. When we come in here, that's a division game, the Cardinals are playing well and we want to come out and try to beat them. Tonight, they got us."
Arrieta, who was coming off a complete-game shutout of the Twins, did his part, giving up three hits over seven innings. Pedro Strop, who had not allowed a run in 11 straight relief appearances, served up a game-tying solo home run to pinch-hitter Greg Garcia in the St. Louis eighth.
"He just scuffled a little bit there," Arrieta said of Strop. "[The relievers] have been lights out."
The Cubs had chances, stranding 12 baserunners and out-hitting the Cardinals, 12-6.
"They did what they do, they fought back," Arrieta said of the Cardinals. "That was a tough one. We were right there."