CHICAGO — Starting pitching. Veteran hitters. Dependable relievers. The St. Louis Cardinals have it all, so all this success on the road is no accident.
Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay drove in two runs apiece, and the Cardinals capped an impressive trip with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Beltran also had three hits as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games and improved to a major league-best 14-7 on the road. The Cardinals went 5-1 on a six-game swing to Milwaukee and Chicago, with the lone loss Tuesday in their first game of the season against the last-place Cubs.
“We’ve been an opportunistic team,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We make the most of the opportunities that we’re getting, even though they’re not that many right now. And then they’re resilient, they just keep coming back.”
The Cardinals trailed 4-3 before Beltran singled in Matt Carpenter in the seventh, and Jay drove in Yadier Molina with a tiebreaking single against Michael Bowden (1-2) in the eighth. Each rally featured a costly mistake by the Cubs, with Carpenter moving to third on an error by right fielder Nate Schierholtz and Molina advancing to second on a wild pitch.
Jay also had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and hit .500 (10 for 20) with a homer and eight RBIs on the trip. The center fielder has been playing so well that Matheny decided to move him up to sixth in the lineup, pushing struggling David Freese down one. The lineup switch also provided more protection for Molina, who responded with two hits.
“I’m just trying to keep it simple up there,” Jay said. “Trying to hit the ball hard, and I’ve been able to get some pitches over the plate that I’ve been able to drive.”
Anthony Rizzo had three hits and Schierholtz ripped a two-run double for Chicago, trying for its second three-game winning streak this season. Instead, the Cubs finished a 4-6 homestand.
“We just can’t seem to shut anybody down in the sixth, seventh inning,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We’re getting two strikes on people, we just can’t make a pitch when we have to.”