CHICAGO -- After losing five in a row at home, the Cardinals got back on track on the road against the division-rival Cubs. Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta hit solo home runs to back Jaime Garcia and lift St. Louis to a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Monday night in front of 41,166 at Wrigley Field.
Garcia struck out six over 6 2/3 innings and outlasted John Lackey, who took the loss in his third meeting this season against his former team.
"We're not really concerned with what they're doing," Garcia said of the Cubs, who lead the Cardinals by 11 1/2 games in the National League Central standings. "It's a long season. We're very confident in ourselves. We've just got to continue to play and not worry about what's happened already." More >
Lackey was paired with catcher Willson Contreras, who was making his first Major League start, and Lackey scattered seven hits, including the two home runs, over six innings.
There's no love between these teams, and both were issued a warning by home plate umpire Pat Hoberg after Garcia hit Kris Bryant with a pitch with two outs in the fifth. Moss, who hit his 16th homer with one out in the second, was plunked by Lackey with two outs in the Cardinals' half of the fifth. Both sides behaved after that.
"I can understand why the umpire did it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "[Hitting Bryant] looked kind of suspicious, but I'm not going to go there. I thought the umpire did what he needed to do, or thought he had to do at that moment."
Trevor Rosenthal, who had given up four runs in his last two outings, pitched around two hits in the ninth for his 13th save, but not without some help from Yadier Molina. The Cardinals catcher cut down rookie Albert Almora Jr. attempting to steal third base with one out in the ninth. Replays showed the ball caromed off Hoberg's foot before Molina grabbed it and threw to third for the out.
"I think we got lucky there," Rosenthal said. "Looking back at it, the umpire helped us out, but the other part about [Molina's] game is his arm. He's got an amazing arm. He always makes accurate throws, and when I saw that, I thought we had a good chance for him to throw [Almora] out there at third."
Said Almora: "I'm an aggressive player. It [stinks]. I feel like I let my team down." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Key addition: Lackey needed 28 pitches to get through the first and 29 in the second. Peralta then launched Lackey's first pitch of the third into the left-field bleachers for his second home run to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. It quickly turned out to be significant when the Cubs plated two in the bottom half of the inning. It was also the last run Lackey and the Cubs allowed.
"Their lineup made some adjustments, and then I had to make some back," Lackey said. "It's something we had to adjust between innings."
Stepping up:Ben Zobrist, subbing as the leadoff man with Dexter Fowler injured, singled to lead off the Cubs third and scored one out later on Bryant's double. Bryant moved up on a wild pitch, and then he tallied on Contreras' single. That was Contreras' third big league at-bat. He hit a pinch-hit home run on the first pitch he saw in the Majors on Sunday night.
Nice slide: The Cardinals preserved their 3-2 lead in the sixth on a nice catch by right fielder Stephen Piscotty. Javier Baez took off running as Garcia's pitch was on its way. Almora lofted a sinking fly ball that would've landed fair inside the foul line, but Piscotty raced over and made a sliding grab to end the inning.
"He was very much in the moment, not nonplussed whatsoever," Maddon said of Contreras. "He absolutely knew what was going on." More >
"Games with them feel like that just because they're a really good team and this place gets so loud and energetic, you know? You come here and there's just a different feel than most games." -- Moss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs' position players in the starting lineup were all under 26 years of age, with the exception of Zobrist, 35. Said manager Joe Maddon: "I should've played [Matt] Szczur and kept Zo out of it."
With one out in the first, Aledmys Diaz was called out at first base on a long throw by shortstop Addison Russell after a ground ball hit to the hole between shortstop and third. The Cardinals challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call was overturned and Diaz was safe.
With two outs in the ninth, Diaz was called out at home after a 7-6-2 relay. The Cardinals challenged the call, and after a review, the call was upheld.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals:Adam Wainwright will start on Tuesday in the second game of this series against the Cubs. Wainwright hasn't allowed a run in his past 12 innings and is 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his last six starts. He is 9-1 with a 3.33 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 20 career starts at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Cubs:Jason Hammel will start on Tuesday. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals since September 2015. He ranks ninth in the big leagues with a 2.26 ERA.