Welington Castillo’s 3-run HR downs Cardinals 6-3 in 11 innings


Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Welington Castillo hit a three-run homer in the 11th to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night at Busch Stadium.

Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29) was once again sharp, and finally got some support from the Cubs offense. Samardzija gave up an RBI single to Yadier Molina in the second inning but was lights out the rest of the day allowing only that run with four strikeouts and no walks over seven innings. Cardinals’ starter Joe Kelly (1-0, 0.79) was equally as effective keeping the Cubs scoreless in his six innings, also walking none while striking out three. Both starters finished with no decisions.

The Cubs scored their first run of the season for Samardzija in the seventh on a Ryan Sweeney single to left. Matt Holliday fielded the ball cautiously and Anthony Rizzo scored from second to tie it.

Rizzo factored into the Cubs second run with a sacrifice fly to score Justin Ruggiano from third to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. They would add an insurance run later in the inning as Nate Schierholtz dropped a soft liner in front of Holliday that he missed on a sliding attempt. Mike Olt came around from first to score as he was moving on the pitch.

Jose Veras entered in the ninth looking for his first save as a Cub, but left with his second blown save.

Molina led off with a single, then Veras hit Allen Craig with a pitch in the next at-bat. The Cubs challenged, but the call stood. A passed ball later in the inning allowed Molina to score and cut the lead to one. With two-out, Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to right to send it to extras.

Justin Grimm (1-0, 0.00) pitched around a jam in the 10th to keep the Cubs in the game and eventually would get the win. Castillo’s home run in the 11th gave them another save opportunity.

This time Hector Rondon(1 SV, 0.00) was able to close the door and give the Cubs a series opening win.

Cubs skipper Rick Renteria will undoubtedly face more questions about the closer role as Veras  struggled again and has a 12.27 ERA in only 3 2/3 innings.

The Cubs and Cardinals will face off again tomorrow at 1:15 CT as Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 4.26) takes on Adam Wainwright (1-1, 1.29).