Questionable walk-off walk gives Cubs 10 in a row

Questionable walk-off walk gives Cubs 10 in a row

CHICAGO -- Should it have been called strike two? With the benefit of slow motion, Zach Duke's 3-1 pitch to Anthony Rizzo appeared as though it could've filled the count. Instead, Rizzo drew a walk with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory Thursday night over the Cardinals in front of 40,597 at Wrigley Field. For the first time since 1909 the Cubs have opened the month of August with a 9-0 record.

The Cubs now have a 13-game lead over the Cardinals in the Central Division, and a 10-game winning streak, the first since a 12-game run from May 19-June 2, 2001.

"It's not easy to beat them, as today showed," Rizzo said.

Must C: Cubs' walk-off walk

With the game tied at 3 in the 11th, rookie Willson Contreras singled off Duke, and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler reached on an infield single. One out later, Dexter Fowler walked to load the bases and one out later, Rizzo drew a walk for the game-winner.

Duke, as well as other Cardinal teammates who watched video of the pitch afterward, believed it should have been called strike two.

"It's a good pitch," Duke said. "PITCHf/x had it in the box. It's unfortunate. It's tough. We battled really hard, never gave in. That's a frustrating way to lose."

Said Rizzo: "It was a good pitch. I thought it was a little in. I'm on top of the plate. I'm looking right there."

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the 11th against Mike Montgomery, but he struck out Matt Carpenter and picked up the win in relief.

"We had a shot just like they had, and they were able to pull something off," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "A lot of things went right that allowed us to keep in there and have a chance for a big hit. We had trouble coming through."

The Cubs tied the score at 2 in the sixth on a strange two-run single by Chris Coghlan, who had tried to call time before the pitch from Carlos Martinez, but it wasn't granted. Coghlan lined the ball to right, and David Ross added a bunt single to take a 3-2 lead. But Randal Grichuk came off the bench to hit a solo homer with two outs in the seventh, the 13th pinch-hit blast this season by the Cardinals, to make it 3-3.

Ross' go-ahead bunt single

With both bullpens depleted, both managers will be looking for deep starts from Friday's starters, St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta for Chicago.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Time out:
With the bases loaded in the sixth, Coghlan hit his two-run single to tie the score at 2. Jason Heyward then scored on Ross' bunt single.
    
"I didn't hear [plate umpire Ron Kulpa] give me time," Coghlan said. "I was like, 'Time,' and I went to put my hand to say time and I didn't hear him say anything. He looked up, and I saw he wasn't going to give it to me.

"It's crazy -- that swing was better than the swing I took before."

Coghlan's two-run single

Back with a bang: Grichuk, summoned from Triple-A earlier in the day, took Travis Wood deep in the seventh inning. The pinch-hit blast put the Cardinals one away from tying the Major League record of 14 set by the D-backs and Giants in 2001. Before being sent down to the Minors on Aug. 2, Grichuk had been in a 3-for-26 rut, with 15 strikeouts and no extra-base hits.

"Anytime you can go up there the first AB back and have a positive AB, it definitely feels good," Grichuk said.

Penmanship: Aroldis Chapman retired the Cardinals on three pitches in the ninth, with some help from third baseman Javier Baez, who caught back-to-back line drives by Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia.

Chapman's three-pitch inning

In their own way: The Cardinals have hurt themselves repeatedly this season with mistakes in the field and on the bases, and Thursday was no exception. Martinez inexplicably cut off a throw to the plate just feet in front of Yadier Molina, who appeared to have a chance to tag out Rizzo as he tried to score on Coghlan's two-run single. An inning later, Gyorko was picked off first just ahead of Grichuk's home run. And the seventh ended with Carpenter being easily thrown out at home trying to score from first on a double.

"It was my bad," Martinez, speaking through a translator, said of his unnecessary cutoff. "I should have backed it up at home plate, and I didn't. I never thought he was going to [try to score]."

Cubs nail Carpenter at home

INJURY REPORT
Holliday exited the game in the 10th inning after being hit on the right hand by a 94-mph fastball from Montgomery and learned soon after that the pitch had fractured his right thumb. Holliday will be placed on the disabled list Friday.

Holliday shaken up following HBP

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals were unsuccessful in trying to challenge a leadoff single by Kris Bryant in the 10th. Bryant hit a grounder to Carpenter, who then tried to beat Bryant to the bag. Carpenter slid feet first as Bryant went in head first, and Bryant was called safe by first-base umpire Chris Conroy. The call stood following a one-minute, 36-second review.

Bryant's infield single

WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals:
Wainwright, 10-1 in his career at Wrigley Field, draws the start for St. Louis on Friday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Wainwright is coming off an outing in which he allowed six runs in the first two innings, but he owns the highest winning percentage of any pitcher (minimum 10 decisions) in Wrigley Field history.

Cubs: Arrieta, who is 1-1 vs. the Cardinals this season, will start Friday in the second game of this four-game series. Arrieta has a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts at Wrigley Field. He's coming off a win against the A's in which he gave up three hits over eight scoreless innings. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT..

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.