CHICAGO -- Maybe it's John Lackey's presence in the Cubs' bullpen in extra innings that results in crazy games. He was ready to go in the 12th if needed Thursday night but instead, Anthony Rizzo drew a walk with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Lackey, who started on Tuesday, also was in the Cubs' pen on July 31 when the Cubs rallied to beat the Mariners in 12 innings on pitcher Jon Lester's bunt hit. Chicago hasn't lost since that game, and now has won 10 in a row.
"Crazy stuff," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Entertaining? Yes."
Chris Coghlan was in the middle of things. The Cardinals led, 2-0, when the Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth. Coghlan tried to call time out but home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa didn't grant it. So, Coghlan stepped in and lined a two-run single to right.
"He has a tendency to quick pitch," Coghlan said of Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, "so I called time and then I put my hand up and said, 'Time,' and looked back at [Kulpa], and he popped up but I saw he wasn't going to give it to me. I just reacted. The only thing that popped into my head was that I'm not going to go down taking it. I was fortuante he threw an off-speed pitch up. If he had thrown 98 [mph], it would've blown past me."
Coghlan did look at a replay of the at-bat and could only shake his head in disbelief.
"It's crazy -- that swing was better than the swing I took before," he said.
Coghlan also ignited a 7-6-2 relay in the seventh to throw out Matt Carpenter at home and nix the potential go-ahead run.
"I know, playing here against the ivy, that the ball just stops," Coghlan said. "As I was running, I was like, 'I have to go to the wall all the way.'"
There was more craziness. Aroldis Chapman needed three pitches to retire the Cardinals in order in the ninth, and will get a steak dinner from Maddon as a reward, once the manager can get someone to explain why. Mike Montgomery, who hadn't pitched since July 31, went two innings, and struck out Carpenter to end the 11th and leave the bases loaded.
"I was just thinking, 'You don't need to make great pitches, just make good pitches and try to let him put it in play,' and it worked out," Montgomery said. "I felt good. It's my job to be ready for anything, and that's my focus."
The craziness ended in the Cubs' 11th when they loaded the bases with two outs against Zach Duke. Rizzo got his walk, the Cubs scored, and they now have won games on a walk-off homer by Javier Baez on May 8, a walk-off wild pitch against the Marlins on Aug. 3, and Lester's 12th-inning bunt.
What's going on?
"I guess just put 'Lack' in the bullpen and let him warm up," Lester said. "Walk-offs are just fun. You'd like to just cruise into the ninth and let the back end of the bullpen do its job, but walk-offs are fun. You get to jump around and act like idiots for a little while and celebrate it. It's almost like you get to go to the playoffs, and it's just a regular win."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.