Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Cardinals 2

CHICAGO – The Cubs evened the three-game series with the Cardinals with a 3-2 victory Saturday, their first win over St. Louis in their last six tries.


HOW IT HAPPENED: Jeff Samardzija walked a season-high six batters, but still managed to hold the hot-hitting Cardinals to just two runs over six innings. Both Cardinals runners that scored reached base via walk. The Cubs took the lead in the seventh inning on somewhat of a surprise. After two batters failed to get Tony Campana home from third base, pinch hitter Reed Johnson laid down a two-out bunt and beat it out as Campana scored to put the Cubs on top.

WHAT IT MEANS: Samardzija not only had to hold back the Cardinals’ offense, he seemed to have trouble harnessing the movement on his pitches. Call it a day when Samardzija’s movement might have been too good. After giving up nine earned runs to the Mets on June 27, Samardzija has given up nine combined earned runs over his next five starts, good for a 2.45 ERA over that stretch.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: First-base umpire Mike Winters pulled the double-whammy on the Cubs, costing them a run, and possibly more, with a bad call at first base in the seventh inning. He then tossed manager Dale Sveum, who had a valid argument. It was the third ejection of the season for Sveum. With the bases loaded and two outs, television replays showed that Castro easily beat out a throw to first base. The correct call would have given the Cubs a two-run lead with the final two innings looming.

OFF BEAT: He might be 36 years old now and his days of stealing 40 bases are long behind him, but Alfonso Soriano can still show his wheels on occasion. Soriano’s first-inning triple into the left-field corner in the first inning was his first of the season and first since Aug. 11 of last season. More importantly, the triple drove in the Cubs’ first two runs of the game.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send left-hander Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.88 ERA) to the mound against the Cardinals in Sunday’s series finale. St. Louis will counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.31) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.