8/10 Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
Manager Dale Sveum only needed to see two things from Dioner Navarro on Saturday to know whether his backup catcher and top bench player was able to play three days after being carted off the field.
“Just walk and squat,” Sveum said of the requirements. “One time was fine enough.”
Navarro also was ready to hit. Darwin Barney smacked a game-tying two-run double in the eighth and Navarro followed with a pinch-hit RBI double to lift the Cubs to a motivated 6-5 victory over the Cardinals.
Nate Schierholtz delivered a RBI single in the ninth, which turned out to be much needed as Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the game in the St. Louis ninth off Kevin Gregg. Welington Castillo hit a solo home run and sacrifice fly for the Cubs, who came into this series with a few more incentives than past matchups. Adam Wainwright was originally scheduled to start Saturday but was skipped so he could be ready for St. Louis’ upcoming series against Pittsburgh. The Cubs felt snubbed.
“If you look at it from their point of view, you don’t really try to take offense to that kind of stuff,” Barney said. “Obviously, we knew what happened, and it wasn’t not talked about, I’ll say that. That young kid [Michael Wacha] threw well today and he has good stuff. It’s not like they were throwing a nobody against us. It’s one of those things.”
Wacha, making his fourth big league start, served up Castillo’s home run leading off the Chicago second. Holliday belted a three-run homer off Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva with one out in the fourth to go ahead, 3-1. Castillo added a sacrifice fly in the fifth but Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran hit back to back doubles in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead.
In the eighth, Trevor Rosenthal walked Castillo and Schierholtz, then struck out the next two batters. Barney, batting .211, then lined a double to right to drive in both and tie the game.
“People are always, ‘Why don’t you pinch-hit for Barney?'” Sveum said. “It’s because he’s the one guy who is going to battle and put the ball in play and do baseball player-type things.”
Navarro arrived in St. Louis about five hours before game time. He injured his right ankle in a collision at home plate on Wednesday in Philadelphia with Chase Utley, and had gone to Chicago to be examined. Prior to the game, Navarro had to do some agility drills — as well as walk and squat — and was pronounced fit. He didn’t take batting practice but it didn’t seem to matter as he lined a 97 mph fastball from Rosenthal to right.
“He gets here today,” Barney said, “and he hadn’t taken a swing, he didn’t take batting practice, and he’s one of those guys who’s a gamer. Turn on 98 [mph] like that after not seeing a pitch in three days is pretty unbelievable.”
Blake Parker picked up his first Major League win in relief, and Gregg hung on for his 25th save, and survived David Freese’s liner off his right shoulder.
With the win, the Cubs notched their first series victory at Busch Stadium since sweeping the Cardinals in a three-game set, Sept. 13-15, 2010. The two teams square off next weekend at Wrigley Field. Wainwright’s next start, by the way, is Tuesday against the Pirates.
– Carrie Muskat