7/12 Cardinals 3, Cubs 2

A year ago, Starlin Castro was preparing for his second All-Star Game. On Friday, he was focused on his swing. Castro hit a solo home run in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as Carlos Beltran smacked an RBI triple and scored on Allen Craig’s single in the first inning to help Joe Kelly pick up his first win of the season in the Cardinals’ 3-2 triumph over the Cubs in front of 37,322 at Wrigley Field.

This was a battle of two swingmen, Kelly and Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs starter did his job, lasting six innings and keeping it close, but Villanueva still took the loss in his 10th start and 26th outing. The right-hander began the year in the rotation, then shifted to the bullpen when Matt Garza returned from the disabled list, and was making his second start since shifting back to starting after Scott Feldman was traded.

“I just couldn’t put those guys away,” Villanueva said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do but didn’t execute the pitches. It just comes down to that. I have to give a lot of credit to [catcher Welington] Castillo. We’ve been working real hard and talking about our game plan and communicating better. Our last two games, we’ve done a good job and doing exactly what we want.”

St. Louis struck quickly as Matt Carpenter singled to lead off the game and scored one out later on Beltran’s triple to right, the first of three hits by the outfielder. Craig followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Alfonso Soriano hit a RBI dinble in the third but with two outs in the Cardinals’ seventh, pinch-hitter Rob Johnson tripled to right past a diving Nate Schierholtz — who probably shouldn’t have dove — and then scored on Carpenter’s double into the gap in left center.

Castro saw the ball fine in the eighth when he led off against Kevin Siegrist with his sixth home run to close the deficit to 3-2. In his last 16 games since June 26, Castro was batting .299. On June 23, he was batting .228, and Sveum decided to sit the shortstop.

“I feel aggressive and feel like I trust myself and good things will be happening,” Castro said. “You just let your talent do its job and keep working. It’s frustrating sometimes because you’re working hard and the things that are supposed to happen don’t happen. It’s hard.”

The Cubs now are 11-20 in one-run decisions, and 4-9 at Wrigley Field in those games. Castro’s homer was the 100th by the team; last year, they did not hit No. 100 until Aug. 16.

— Carrie Muskat



Why did Villanueva get the loss in this game? He gave up 2 earned runs (both in the first), the Cubs scored 2 in the game, so he did not give up the game winning run (Guerrier did). Villanueva exited the game after pitching 6 innings, giving up only those 2 runs in the first and the Cubs trailing 2-1. The Cardinals then scored a run in the 7th off of Guerrier. The Cubs came back and scored one late in the 8th, but lost 3-2.

Rule 10.17d says “A losing pitcher is a pitcher who is responsible for the run that gives the winning team a lead that the winning team does not relinquish.” Wasn’t the lead created by the 2 runs given up by Villanueva relinquished in the 8th on the Castro HR? Wouldn’t that “non-relinquished lead run” be Guerrier giving up the 3rd run in the 7th?

Could you help explain this for me please? Thanks!!

Never mind. I think I figured it out.

Villanueva gave up the LEAD, not the winning run. The Cardinals took the lead 2-0 off of Villanueva. We made it 2-1, then they went up 3-1, then we came back 3-2 … but the Cardinals never relinquished the LEAD.

Another extreme example: If Villanueva had given up 2 runs in the 1st, pitched through 6 and still was behind 2-0, the opposition scores 7 in the 7th off a different Cubs pitcher to go up 9-0. We go to the bottom of the 9th, Cubs down 9-0. Cubs score 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th, but lose 9-8. Villanueva STILL gets the loss, as he gave up the lead that was never relinquished.

With Soriano leading the league in RBI dinbles……I can’t believe there is little to no trade interest in his services.

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