CHICAGO — Matt Garza pitched into the seventh inning for his fifth consecutive win and Alfonso Soriano homered again, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
Garza allowed a season-high 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings, but held the NL’s highest scoring offense to two runs while improving to 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. With a handful of scouts from several contenders watching his every move, the right-hander struck out four and walked two.
Garza’s hot stretch has made him one of the top names on the market ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But he also is eligible for free agency after the season, adding a tricky element to the negotiations between any interested team and a Cubs franchise looking for more top-level prospects for its rebuilding project.
Jon Jay had four hits and Matt Adams went 2 for 4 for St. Louis, which had won six of seven, including a 3-2 victory in the second game of the four-game series on Friday night. Lance Lynn was knocked out in the fifth inning in his second-shortest outing of the season.
The Cardinals played without outfielder Matt Holliday, who left Thursday’s night’s 3-0 loss to Chicago due to tightness in his right hamstring.
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina was out of the starting lineup on his 31st birthday, but he hit for Rob Johnson in the eighth and stayed in the game.
Molina reached on an error by right fielder Julio Borbon, loading the bases with one out. Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly, trimming the Cubs’ lead to 6-3, but James Russell got Daniel Descalso to fly out to end the inning.
Kevin Gregg allowed Jay’s two-out RBI single in the ninth before retiring Pete Kozma with runners on the corners for his 17th save in 19 chances.
Tony Cruz started for St. Louis at catcher and singled in Adams in the second. But he also was called for interference during Chicago’s three-run rally in the bottom half, setting up Starlin Castro’s dribbler up the third base line for an RBI single.
Soriano drove Lynn’s first pitch of the third over the wall in center field for his 16th homer, extending the lead to 4-1. The slugger went 2 for 5 and is batting .350 (21 for 60) with nine homers and 19 RBIs in his last 15 games, increasing the likelihood that he could be dealt in the next couple weeks.
Garza (6-1) escaped a jam in the fourth and was in control until the Cardinals chased him with three hits in the seventh, including Allen Craig’s run-scoring single.
Garza received a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,240 as he trudged off the mound following Craig’s hit, but the pitcher slammed his glove on his right leg as he made his way to the dugout, upset with the hit by his last batter.