"It stands out and it's special and you can sense it," Matheny said of the Cardinals' grit. "I've been on the other side, and it's no fun. You get kicked in the gut, [and] normally you just feel the team collapse. These guys, it just makes them mad."
The Cubs got in two kicks to the gut in this game, but neither one was enough to keep their longtime rivals down.
The first was a three-run homer by Darwin Barney in the sixth off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, which took the Cubs from two runs down to a 4-3 lead with one good swing at a high cutter over the outer half of the plate. Sparked by Yadier Molina and shortstop Pete Kozma, however, the Cardinals responded in the top of the seventh with two runs of their own to retake the lead, 5-4, and seemingly put the clamps on a win.
After adding an insurance run in the eighth, the Cubs delivered their second blow in the form of a clutch two-out, pinch-hit double by Cody Ransom off Cardinals closer Edward Mujica that tied it up 6-6 and again got many among the 35,178 riled up.
Once again, the visitors responded -- this time making sure the Cubs were down and out. Carlos Beltran doubled in the ninth and scored the eventual go-ahead run on an RBI single by Allen Craig, and Molina blasted an 0-2 pitch by Cubs closer Kevin Gregg far over the wall in left for a three-run homer that gave the Cardinals a four-run lead.
Mujica, who will replace teammate Adam Wainwright on the National League All-Star roster, pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
"I can't even express how proud I am of how these guys play the game," Matheny said. "It's a very fitting way to end before the break -- just very impressive resiliency. You never want to see any of our [pitchers] give up runs or the opportunity to get a save, but I'm sure it was nice how the guys answered back for them."
Molina went 4-for-6 with the homer and four RBIs to snap an 0-for-17 hitless stretch, while Kozma finished 3-for-6 with two RBIs to break up a skid that reached 0-for-28 after he lined out to left in his first at-bat. He also plated a run in the third with a perfectly-placed bunt that scored Molina to make it 2-1.
Craig also had a big night at the plate, going 4-for-5 and extending his hitting streak to seven games.
Wainwright, who declined a chance to pitch an inning in the All-Star Game to open a roster spot for Mujica, started and took a no-decision. He went six innings and allowed four runs while throwing 111 pitches -- a high mark for that number of innings pitched thanks mainly to Cubs hitters fouling off a lot of pitches.
Still, Wainwright wiggled out of potential jams in each of the first five innings and allowed just one run until Barney's blast in the sixth. That's when things got interesting, with the Cardinals going into what former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen liked to call "paws up" mode to fight like a cat.
"We've got a good offense," Molina said. "We've got a good team. We're never going to give up. We've been proving that for the past couple years. We never give up. Whatever happens in the game or in the inning before, we're going to come after you."
Barney led the Cubs by going 3-for-4 with his home run and four RBIs, but it wasn't enough on its own to take out Molina or the scrappy effort of the Cardinals.
"[Molina] is unbelievable," Barney said. "Sometimes you just don't know how to get the guy out. I don't know where to play him. It's tough. Once we get a little momentum, he's just a dagger every time."