CHICAGO -- Of all the outcomes possible as Yadier Molina took a swing at a 2-2 pitch from David Robertson in the eighth inning on Wednesday, the one that followed may have been the most unlikely.
Molina's triple into the right-field corner -- which drove in every run the Cardinals would need in a 3-2 win over the White Sox -- ended a string of 2,071 at-bats without a three-base hit for the veteran catcher. For some perspective, Molina had earned five All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves and one World Series championship since he last legged out a triple.
So much time had passed, in fact, that Molina couldn't recall when it last happened (May 22, 2011, against the Royals). This one, though, he'll likely remember for a while, as it pushed the Cardinals' division lead over Pittsburgh to six games and put the club at 60 wins quicker than any other team this season.
"I was happy to find the hole and put something on the board," Molina said. "It was a great comeback win for us."
Hitless with runners in scoring position up until that point, the Cardinals used a single, hit batter and fortunate catcher's interference call to fill the bases for Molina, who had already twice singled on the night.
Facing Robertson, against whom right-handed hitters had a .181 average this season, Molina sought out a pitch middle-away that he could handle. Robertson threw Molina a 2-2 cutter that the Chicago reliever later described as a "great pitch." Molina, nevertheless, turned it into an ideal outcome for the Cardinals.
"A triple from a catcher is a tough one to take," Robertson said. "He's a good hitter. I don't know what else to say -- I threw my best pitch, and he got me."
The game-winning hit gave Molina back-to-back three-hit games in this two-game trip to Chicago and puts him atop the Majors in multihit games by a catcher. Any consideration the Cardinals had with regards to reining in Molina's workload has been delayed, too, as the 33-year-old backstop continues to look as spry as he has in years.
It may have something to do, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged, with the offseason work Molina did to shed around 20 pounds.
"I think we're probably seeing now the benefits of the shape that he worked himself into and the strength that he's been able to mix in with the shape that he was able to get in," Matheny said. "I think we're seeing a good spot that he's in right now."
Molina has started a National League-most 85 games behind the plate. That puts him on pace to start 146 games this season, which would be 10 more than his previous career high.