September 19, 2015

Castro and Cubs turn Friendly Confines into a Nightmare on Addison for Cardinals

CHICAGO--WRIGLEY FIELD--A pair of home runs worth five RBI, plus another RBI single, served up by the Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro, heated up the N.L. Central Division race with an 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The six RBI tied a career high for Castro.

Lance Lynn, Cardinals' starting pitcher, only lasted 3.1 innings in the Friday afternoon game. Lynn gave up three runs on four hits, walking a half-dozen Cubs while striking out two. Lynn spent time barking at the home plate umpire, Dan Bellino from the dugout after his exit, reportedly about the strike zone.

The Friendly Confines weren't too friendly to recently returning (from injury) Matt Holliday, who got beaned with an 86 m.p.h. fast ball delivered by Cubs' starting pitcher, Dan Haren, who like Lynn, earned no decision. Haren did not pitch much more than Lynn, hurling for 4.1 innings and giving up three runs, only one of those earned. The Holliday beaning, however, got things stirring at Wrigley.

Bellino issued warnings to both managers and any pitcher in action or that would take to the mound afterwards.

The Cubs' fifth and sixth innings provided a daytime stage for Castro, who hit a two-run shot to left-center field in the fifth, breaking a three-all tie to put the Cubs ahead, 5-3, the homer proving to be the game winner. A three-run blast to left field in the sixth gave Chicago all the insurance it needed, increasing the lead to the game's final score of 8-3.

The Cardinals mustered five hits for the game, three of those from Brandon Moss, who went 3-for-4, including a pair of doubles. Kolten Wong tripled. Greg Garcia singled.

The seventh inning brought more drama to a division race already hyped by the longtime rivalry of the two clubs involved when Cards' reliever, Matt Belisle, hit Cubs' hitter, Anthony Rizzo, in the leg. Bellino decided the pitch was purposeful, ejecting both Belisle and Matheny.

After the game, Cubs' manager, Joe Maddon, expressed his disgust with the Rizzo hit-by-pitch episode, basically accusing the Cardinals of low-class baseball. Social media was hopping with predictions of a Starlin Castro beaning in Saturday's game. 

Seth Maness (4-2), Cards' reliever who gave up the Castro two-run homer in the fifth, drew the loss.

Tommy Hunter (4-2), Cubs' reliever, picked up the win.

The Cardinals' division lead is cut to five games over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost on the west coast to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-2. (The Pirates are on a four-game losing streak.) The Cubs have cut their deficit to six games behind the first place Cardinals