ST. LOUIS -- A unique sequence of events that included a ball getting stuck in Yadier Molina's chest protector and a 404-foot blast by Kyle Schwarber propelled the Cubs to a come-from-behind 6-4 win to seal a series victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Thursday.
The game, delayed a day due to weather, seemed to be in the Cardinals' grasp until things went awry in the seventh. Reliever Brett Cecil opened the inning with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Matt Szczur, but Szczur reached first when the ball bounced and got trapped in Molina's chest protector. Jon Jay followed with a walk before Schwarber pummeled a first-pitch cutter just inside the right-field foul pole.
"It was a good team win right there," Schwarber said. "[John] Lackey battled his butt off. He gave us six quality innings. For things to kind of go our way there with Yadi and the ball sticking on the the chest protector, [then] a good at-bat by Jon Jay. I was able to get a good pitch and drive it."
The loss spoiled Cardinals starter Lance Lynn's strong season debut. Pitching in a big league game for the first time since November 2015 elbow surgery, Lynn had great success attacking the Cubs' offense with a heavy dose of fastballs. He allowed two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings, including a ball with a 69 percent catch probability -- according to Statcast™ -- that eluded Matt Adams. The left fielder's missed catch helped Chicago pull within two in the sixth.
"I wish I would have taken a better route on that one ball," said Adams, who was later double-switched out of the game. "You're just trying to read the ball off the bat and get to the spot where you think the ball's going to go."
A first-inning error by Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist complicated things early for starter Lackey, but the veteran right-hander rebounded from the three-run first to finish six innings. The Cards tagged him for another run in the fifth on Molina's sacrifice fly, which put St. Louis ahead, 4-1.
"They just kept kind of picking away as the game went on," Lynn said. "Then Schwarber put a good swing on a pitch. That's what they do. They're a good team. You just have to keep fighting with them. It was a fun series. They were able to get two of three, but we were in every game. Every game was close. It's going to be like that all year. Two good teams."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Long gone: Schwarber's first home run of the season was also the third of his career off a left-handed pitcher. According to Statcast™, Schwarber had never tallied a harder hit off a southpaw in the regular season. The ball came off his bat with an exit velocity of 112.1 mph. Though Schwarber did hit a memorable postseason home run off the Cardinals that landed on the Wrigley Field scoreboard, this was his first against St. Louis in a regular-season game. Of his 17 career homers, seven have been go-ahead or game-tying ones. More >
Two for none?: Zobrist's error turned what could have been an inning-ending double play for the Cubs into a three-run first inning for the Cardinals. Zobrist couldn't hang on to a feed from shortstop Addison Russell, and he had an out at second base taken away by a replay review. Aledmys Diaz scored on the play, and subsequent singles by Adams and Randal Grichuk drove in runs, as well.
"I don't know. I dropped the ball, and it was sticking in my chest. I don't know how." -- Molina, unable to explain how a ball stuck to his chest protector in the seventh inning
"That's new. I don't know if they've come out with velcro on the protectors and if there's like a fuzzy baseball. I'm not sure what happened there. It was definitely velcroed to his chest. And it helped us." -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on the ball that stuck to Molina's chest protector
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals used a timely challenge in the first inning to capitalize on Zobrist's miscue. Second-base umpire Paul Emmel initially called Matt Carpenter out at second, but a review of the play showed that Zobrist never had control of the ball after taking a throw from Russell. The call was overturned, giving the Cards two baserunners with one out.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs: Lefty Brett Anderson will make his Cubs debut on Friday as Chicago opens a three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CT. Anderson, who has one career appearance against the Brewers, will face righty Jimmy Nelson.
Cardinals:Mike Leake will make his season debut on Friday, when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Reds. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Leake, who spent the first six years of his career pitching for Cincinnati, will be opposed by Amir Garrett, making his Major League debut.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.