On a day filled with drama, Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez played the role of hero in a 6-5 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Báez cracked his 11th home run of the season into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Pedro Strop finished off the save as the Cubs won their sixth straight game and moved to within a half-game of the division lead.
Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish struggled, giving up five earned runs in four innings, but the Cubs’ bullpen was nearly flawless, giving up three hits while striking out seven in five innings of work to seal the victory.
Brandon Kintzler got his first win of the season by pitching a scoreless eighth inning, and Pedro Strop picked up his fourth save with a perfect ninth.
Cubs catcher Taylor Davis hit his first career home run, a grand slam, to pace the Cubs’ offense. Kris Bryant registered an RBI single in the first inning, and David Bote picked up a pair of hits and scored a run in the victory.
The Cubs got off to a quick start in the first inning, as Daniel Descalso hit a lead-off single and then advanced to third on a fielding error by Dexter Fowler. Bryant then drove him in with a looping single to center, giving Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals piled up five runs over the next three innings, with Jose Martínez hitting a mammoth home run in the second, Matt Carpenter doubling to center in the third, and pitcher Michael Wacha hitting a single to left field in the fourth. Carpenter capped off the rally with a single in the top of the fourth, scoring Kolten Wong and giving St. Louis a four-run advantage.
That lead was erased with one swing of the bat from Davis, who launched a long grand slam to left field to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth.
The score remained intact until the eighth inning when Báez stepped up with no outs and no one on and launched a home run into the bleachers in right field to give the Cubs a 6-5 lead.
Strop then slammed the door on the Cardinals in the ninth, registering a pair of strikeouts, and the Cubs cruised to their sixth consecutive victory.
The Cubs will go for the sweep, and for the division lead, on Sunday night when they face the Cardinals on ESPN. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.