Molina salvages series finale, Cubs fall 5-4


Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In a battle of the stars, it was Yadier Molina who came through when it mattered most. Molina’s delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth that was the difference in a Cardinals 5-4 win over the Cubs (11-18) on Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

It was a night of missed opportunities for the Cubs, who saw their two hottest hitters – Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro – unable to come through with clutch hits when they needed it most. Rizzo and Castro were retired with the bases loaded in the third inning and the Cubs trailing 3-0. Castro left another runner in scoring position after the Cubs had tied the game in the seventh, as well. Rizzo stranded the potential game-tying run on second in the ninth.

Trevor Rosenthal gave up a run-scoring double to Luis Valbuena with two outs in the ninth that made it 5-4. He then got Rizzo to ground out to first to end it. It was Rosenthal’s ninth save of the season.

Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.53) wasn’t fooling anybody early on, yielding three runs in the first three innings before eventually going six innings and leaving with his team trailing 3-2. After the Cubs tied the game on a Carlos Martinez wild pitch in the seventh, neither starting pitcher got a decision.

Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (4-1, 3.51) was in position to win after going six strong innings, giving up only two runs, both of whom scored on a two-run single by Hammel in the fourth.

Molina’s game-winning four-bouncer made it to center field with the bases loaded in the ninth and gave the Cardinals (16-16) the runs they needed to get back to the .500 mark and salvage the final game of the three-game set.

Cubs closer Hector Rondon took the loss, pitching the ninth for the third straight day. He got to two strikes on Molina before the Cardinal catcher made up for allowing the game-tying run to score on a pitch that went right through the five-hole in the seventh.

The Cubs will host the White Sox on Monday and Tuesday before heading to the south side to take on the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday and Thursday. The Cards will head to Atlanta to take on a Braves team that is reeling, having lost four in a row.