Matt Carpenter knew exactly what he needed to do.
Carpenter hit a game-ending single against an unusual defensive alignment in the 10th inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday night.
"They had their entire 25-man roster on the right side of the field," Carpenter said, "so I just knew that hitting pull side on the ground — pull side in the air, that's fine, we could still score — pull side on the ground was not an option.
"So my approach in that at-bat was to look for something to hit the other way and get something in the air and was able to do it."
The Cardinals won back-to-back games for the first time since April 30-May 1 and avoided the worst winning percentage for May in franchise history by going 9-18 (.333). They went 8-18 in May 1980.
"A lot of guys in here that are not performing like they wish they would, myself included," Carpenter said. "I have a feeling we're all going to get going at the same time. Hopefully, tonight was the start of that."
Kolten Wong helped set up Carpenter's clutch swing with a one-out double off Mike Montgomery (1-1) for the team's lone extra-base hit. Dillon Maples then came in and walked Harrison Bader and Jedd Gyorko to load the bases.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought in Steve Cishek to face Carpenter, and put four players on the right side of the infield. But Carpenter drove in Wong with a fly ball that found the grass in the left field corner.
"You're in a tough spot there, on the other side, of what you want to defend," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "Clearly, it's bases loaded. Winning run at third with one out. (Carpenter) had a good approach, didn't try to do too much, which I appreciated."
Maddon said Maples clearly struck out Bader on a pitch that umpire Laz Díaz ruled was ball four, and the missed call changed the complexion of the entire inning.
"It wasn't even a borderline pitch; it was a strike," Maddon said. "That's the kind of stuff you want to see something done about and I'm still not advocating an electronic strike zone, I'm just advocating let's go, let's go. You cannot miss that pitch in that situation."
Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas gave up one run in seven innings. He allowed six hits and walked two while throwing 104 pitches, matching his season high.
Carlos Martínez pitched a perfect eighth for St. Louis, and Jordan Hicks (2-2) worked two scoreless innings. The last pitch Hicks threw in the ninth registered at 104.3 mph, which is the fastest in baseball this season.
Cubs starter Yu Darvish permitted three hits through six innings, but still picked up his sixth straight no-decision. He walked his first two batters, leading to Marcell Ozuna's sacrifice fly.
"That was some really electric stuff by him all night long," Maddon said. "His confidence is beginning to soar and I believe you're going to see that a lot more often."
Chicago had a chance to break the tie after Jason Heyward and Addison Russell led off the fourth with singles, but Mikolas got Albert Almora Jr. to ground into a double play to end the threat.
"I was kind of the middle of the zone and worked around that," Mikolas said. "Made some frustrating two strike pitches early in the game, cleaned it up a little bit as the game went on and found a groove there towards the later innings."