Cubs save their best for last in their series with the Cardinals

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 29: Ben Zobrist #18, Albert Almora Jr. #5 and Jason Heyward #22 of the Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 29, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS – It wasn’t the best of starts to the series or the latest Sunday night game featuring two NL Central rivals at Busch Stadium. In fact, the venue hasn’t been great to the Cubs all season.

Remember in early May that Joe Maddon’s team lost three-straight during a weekend series, with the last ending on a Dexter Fowler walk-off homer. The Cubs got two-of-three in mid-June, but this series they dropped the first two games to the Cardinals – and they weren’t pretty. A three-run loss Friday was followed by a six-run first inning the next day that led to another defeat.

Facing a second sweep in St. Louis in 2018 on Sunday in the team’s final regular season game at Busch Stadium, the Cubs finally brought their best for the last game. Even if it wasn’t the best of starts for the man on the mound.

Kyle Hendricks allowed a homer in the first inning but he along with the team stabilized after that. The starter never allowed another run the next six innings and the offense picked him up in a 5-2 win to salvage one of three games in the series, improving their record to 61-44 to stay a game-and-a-half in front of the Brewers for first in the NL Central.

Hendricks, who gave up his tenth first inning homer of the season in the first inning to Marcell Ozuna after getting spotted a run in the top half, allowed just those two runs over seven innings. He struck out eight batters while not walking anyone as he picked up his seventh win of the season.

Anthony Rizzo matched Ben Zobrist’s first inning shot with one of his own to tie the game in the third, hitting it just over Tommy Pham’s glove in center for his 15th homer of the season.  In the fifth the Cubs got the lead thanks to a little bit of fortune as Jason Heyward drove in Rizzo on an error by second baseman Yairo Munoz. Javier Baez made the Cardinals pay with a two-out, two run double the put the Cubs up by three.

Meanwhile the team’s pitching allowed just one hit and one walk after that, with Pedro Strop finishing off the game with a perfect ninth for his fifth save. Indeed the victory saved what up to that point was a grim series in St. Louis as the team managed to save their best for last at Busch Stadium.