It was payback time for the Cardinals. After losing four of six games at Busch Stadium to the Cubs, the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright spoiled the party in front of 41,616 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night with a 4-3 victory.
It evened the season series against the division rivals at 4-4 and moved St. Louis to 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs.
Matt Carpenter belted a solo homer in the third inning and Matt Holliday followed one batter later with a two-run shot to back Wainwright, who improved to 10-1 in 16 career starts at Wrigley Field. He joins Bob Gibson and Harry "The Cat" Brecheen as the only Cardinals pitchers with at least 10 career wins at Wrigley.
"I had decent stuff tonight, but just my command was abysmal," Wainwright said. "We just had to find a way to make it work and we did. It's an overstatement to say this is a statement series just yet, but I think what you're seeing now is a team that's coming together at the right time."
The Cardinals' ace was coming off his best start of the season in which he threw seven shutout innings against the Astros, and on Tuesday, he scattered six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
"I thought Adam was great, set the tone, and didn't even have his best stuff," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Starting off the first four innings putting guys on base or giving up base hits, that's high stress right from the beginning, but he was managing the baserunners and making good pitches once he got into a bind. Once again, the long ball showed up and helped out."
Jason Hammel, who began the night ranked seventh in the National League in ERA, took the loss. It's only the second time the Cubs have lost two in a row at home; they also dropped a pair in a doubleheader against the Padres on May 11.
"It's going to happen again," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of losing two in a row at home. "I have no complaints about the last two nights. Zero. We played well, we played good baseball. If you're a baseball fan, you saw good baseball. They scored one more run than we did -- give them credit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Going for distance: The Cardinals took the lead in the third via long home runs by Carpenter and Holliday that combined for 851 feet. Each one went to center field off Hammel, who didn't allow another run. Carpenter led off the inning with a shot that traveled 417 feet and Holliday's blast went 434 feet, putting St. Louis up 4-1. It was Holliday's second homer in the past three games.
"Those balls were [really] hit," Moss said. "They came at a really good time."
Close encounters:Brandon Moss helped the Cardinals escape a jam in the seventh thanks to a diving grab to strand runners at the corners. Addison Russell doubled to start the inning, and two outs later, Jonathan Broxton walked Chris Coghlan. But both were stranded when Moss stopped a sharply hit grounder by Jason Heyward and stepped on first to end the inning.
"In games like that, defense is very important," Moss said. "With a team like them, you've got to preserve every run. So, as focused as you always are on defense, you try to bear down a little bit, especially when it's such a close game. But that play's just reaction. Sometimes you catch it, sometimes you don't. You just react and hope you react in time."
Moss also got the Cardinals on the board first with an RBI single in the second.
"Moss is swinging the bat," Maddon said. "You have to be careful with him."
You go, we go: Chris Coghlan, subbing for injured Dexter Fowler in the Cubs' leadoff spot, reached base in three of his four plate appearances. He singled to open the first and scored on Anthony Rizzo's sacrifice fly. Coghlan walked to open the third and tallied on Heyward's double. Coghlan also walked with two outs in the seventh.
Start me up: Hammel had won each of his two previous starts against the Cardinals this season, limiting St. Louis to two runs over 13 1/3 innings at Busch Stadium. He got off to a great start, needing just eight pitches to retire the side in order in the first. But both Carpenter and Holliday connected on home runs in the third, and the Cardinals finished with six hits over 5 2/3 innings against the right-hander. The four runs off Hammel matched a season high -- he also gave up four May 19 against the Brewers.
"For whatever reason, I was getting behind hitters, and I had to go back to what I do best, which is sinker, slider," Hammel said. "Once I did that, we were able to keep it close. I just have to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard. Mistakes up in the zone cost us."
QUOTABLE "I felt like sometimes the ball was coming back harder to me than I was throwing to him -- the kid's got a cannon. ... He literally executed the game plan to perfection. Now it's the application for the guy on the mound. I felt that once we got on the same page in that regard, and I was able to shake and get to pitches I wanted to throw, we did fine." -- Hammel, on catcher Willson Contreras, who was making his second Major League start behind the plate
"I'll buy him dinner for that, any dinner he wants. He probably wants Chik-Fil-A though. He's a Georgia boy." -- Wainwright, on Moss' diving play at first to end the seventh inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS When Gerardo Concepcion entered in the sixth, he became the first Cuban-born pitcher to make his Major League debut with the Cubs since Oscar Zamora in 1974. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals:Michael Wacha will try to deliver a sweep of the three-game series with the Cubs, looking to break a career-high string of seven losses. It's the longest active loss streak in the Major Leagues. He has made nine career starts against the Cubs, going 3-4 with a 5.90 ERA. First pitch is slated for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta will make his 15th start of the season Wednesday. He's 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 10 career regular-season starts against the Cardinals. On May 25, he gave up four runs over five innings in St. Louis.