Cubs eliminate Cardinals 2-1 in 11 innings
ST. LOUIS -- One night after clinching the National League Central title on the field of their archrivals, the Chicago Cubs guaranteed that the St. Louis Cardinals will be home for October for the second consecutive year.
Taylor Davis, who signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2011 and worked his way up through the organization, delivered the blow that eliminated the Cardinals from the wild-card chase.
The third baseman doubled home a run in the 11th inning Thursday night, giving the Cubs a 2-1 victory.
Davis was starting for only the second time in his career. The hit was his second in the majors and produced his first RBI. It earned him a spot in the rich lore and history of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
“Literally the coolest thing I’ve ever done, other than marrying my wife,” Davis said. “Being able to win a game, especially against this team and in this park, it’s so cool. It was incredible. (The Cardinals) probably hate me, and rightfully so.”
The loss dropped St. Louis four games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second wild-card spot with only three games to play. This is the first time since 2007-2008 the Cardinals have missed the playoffs in two consecutive years.
”I always stand up here and tell you I think we’re just a few games or something happening away from having things work out and we can still achieve what we want to achieve,“ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ”This is the first time I have to stand up here and say that’s not going to happen.
“We fell short of what we wanted to do.”
With one out in the 11th, Kyle Schwarber -- one of just two semi-regulars in the Cubs’ lineup -- reached base on a swinging bunt and went to second when pitcher Matt Bowman (3-6) made a wild throw to first. Schwarber scored when Davis lined a ball past third base and into the left field corner.
Davis had been 0-for-4 going into that at-bat and had struck out three times, which he said was the first time he had done that in his professional career.
“I went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs,” he said.
The Cardinals thought they tied the game in the bottom of the inning, but Leonys Martin leaped above the center field wall to take a home run away from Paul DeJong and end the game.
“It kind of summed up the year when he robbed it,” DeJong said. “The rug was taken out from under us. I thought it was gone. He timed it perfect. I‘m still kind of in shock.”
The game went to extra innings tied 1-1 after Chicago’s Ian Happ hit his 23rd homer in the first inning before the Cardinals tied it on an RBI groundout by Dexter Fowler in the sixth.
Lance Lynn, a pending free agent, made what likely was his final start for the Cardinals. He had to come out after five innings when his back tightened up, having allowing one run on three hits but also issuing four walks.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, making his final tune-up before the NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals, worked five shutout innings, striking out nine.
The win allowed the Cubs (90-69) to finish the season with a 14-5 record against the Cardinals, their most wins in a season against St. Louis (82-77) since they went 15-3 in 1978.
“We’re just trying to win games; my pleasure came last night,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
NOTES: Cubs RHP John Lackey would not talk about it, but teammate Jon Lester said during the team’s postgame celebration Wednesday after clinching the NL Central that Lackey likely will retire at the end of this season. ... On the day after winning the division for the second year in a row, the Cubs rested virtually all of their regulars on Thursday. The only two position players with more than 22 starts this season in the lineup were OFs Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina is still going through concussion protocol tests to see if he will be cleared to play again this season. ... The Cardinals will finish spring training next season with two games against the Toronto Blue Jays in Montreal. ... The Cubs return home to play the Cincinnati Reds for the final three games of the regular season while the Cardinals will host the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend.