The Cardinals found one way to solve their problem of hitting into double plays. They didn't hit into their first one Sunday and major league-leading 137th of the season until left fielder Matt Holliday ended the top of the ninth inning with a double-play grounder. By that time, though, they had four home runs.
That quartet of home runs, tying their season-high for a game, propelled the Cardinals to a 6-2 win at Chicago, netting the Cardinals the final game of a three-game series, just as they had garnered the final game of a three-game set in Pittsburgh.
But while the Cardinals
went 2-4, the Milwaukee Brewers went 6-1 for the week and
Catcher Yadier Molina continued his best offensive season, clouting his 10th and 11th home runs as he recorded the second multi-homer game of his career.
First baseman Albert Pujols, continuing his quest to hit .300, jumped his average to a season-high .289, with a four-hit game, including his 31st home run as he regained the National League homer lead.
Holliday, who gone hitless in 13 at-bats, had three hits.
Center fielder Jon Jay had two hits, including his first homer since July 6, as he pushed his average back to .299 and made two outstanding catches in the outfield.
And right-hander Jake Westbrook gave the Cardinals one of his best starts of the season, working seven strong innings, giving up just two runs. But what does it all mean?
The Cardinals will play 22 of their final 35 games at home, but even the schedule advantage probably won't be enough for them to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons since winning the 2006 World Series.
CF Jon Jay and C Yadier Molina hit homers on consecutive pitches in the second inning, which were the first in succession by Cardinals hitters since July 5. RF Lance Berkman was involved in the back-to-back drives on the previous four occasions.
SS Daniel Descalso, the Cardinals' third option at the position, started Sunday's game. Regular SS Rafael Furcal sprained his right thumb Saturday when he stepped from the concrete floor of the Wrigley Field batting cage in right-center-field onto a wooden step that he said gave way beneath him, causing Furcal to tumble forward and injure his thumb while bracing himself with his hands. Backup SS Ryan Theriot had a hamstring injury he sustained in Saturday's game while making a double play. The start was Descalso's first since Aug. 7. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored.
LHP Jaime Garcia gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings, RHP Edwin Jackson three runs in seven innings and RHP Jake Westbrook, Sunday's winner, two runs in seven innings. The three Cardinals starters in the Cubs' series all turned in quality starts, though the Cardinals won only one game.
Bullpen coach Derek
Lilliquist moved into the dugout for the last two games of the
RHP Jake Westbrook, with his 10th win Sunday, reached double figures in wins for the fifth time in his career. He is 14-11 in his two seasons with the Cardinals.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4- Four-hit games by 1B Albert Pujols this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've never experienced anything like it as a manager. It's just brutal."
- Manager Tony La Russa on the Cardinals' major league-leading double play total, which moved to 137 Sunday.
SS Rafael Furcal (sprained right thumb) missed the Aug. 20 and 21 games and is day-to-day.
INF Ryan Theriot (hamstring) was out Sunday and is day-to-day.
RHP Edwin Jackson (right hamstring cramp) left his Aug. 14 start early but made his next start Aug. 20 after taking an extra day of rest.
INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.
Aug. 22 vs. DODGERS: Chris Carpenter (8-8, 3.68) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 2.12)
7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX