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Cubs 7, Cardinals 5: A little bit of this, a little bit of that

The Cubs put together a varied offense and won the first of this five-game set.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Cubs split a four-game series with the Brewers this week and could possibly have won all four games.

So when the Cardinals came to town Thursday, there was at least some hope that the Cubs could continue doing something they’d rarely done this year — win at Wrigley Field.

First game of the series, at least — check. The Cubs hit some home runs, but also put together some rallies without the long ball and defeated the Cardinals 7-5 Thursday evening, their third win in a row.

The Cubs scored a pair in the first inning. They currently rank second in MLB (to the Nationals, somewhat surprisingly) in first-inning runs this year, 44 of them. Christopher Morel led off with a double and Willson Contreras then sent a ball over the left-field wall [VIDEO].

It didn’t go that far and it was a bit hard to see on that video, but the ball hit the ribbon board in front of the left-field corner. Far enough, though, for a 2-0 lead. Also, Morel extended his franchise-record on-base streak to start a career to 16 games. This is now getting interesting. In all of MLB history (since 1901) only 38 players have had a longer such streak. If Morel reaches base Friday, that number is reduced to 24. The last player to have a 17-game on-base streak to start his career was Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays in 2019.

After the Cardinals plated a pair in the top of the third off Keegan Thompson, Frank Schwindel made it 3-2 in the bottom of the inning [VIDEO].

That ball was crushed!

Want one more home run from a Cubs hitter? Here you go! Ian Happ sent one out of the yard in the fourth to make it 4-2 [VIDEO].

The Cubs switched gears away from the long ball in the fifth. Schwindel, who had a three-hit night, singled to lead off the inning. Nico Hoerner advanced him to second with a single, and one out later Clint Frazier singled Schwindel in [VIDEO].

Complaint (and Cubs TOOTBLAN): Frazier should have just stayed at first base. The Cubs would then have had runners on first and third with one out, and a chance, possibly, for a big inning. Instead there’s a runner on third with two out, and P.J. Higgins’ subsequent fly ball ended the inning.

The Cardinals scored one more off Thompson in the sixth to make it 5-3. You could tell David Ross was trying to get Thompson through six, but the big righthander ran out of gas. The run scored on a fielder’s choice by Yadier Molina off Michael Rucker after Thompson had left the game. Thompson’s start, while not quite as good as previous outings, was still solid. Some numbers on Thompson’s outing:

The Cubs put two more on the board in the eighth. Higgins had his second hit of the night, a single. Nick Madrigal singled him to third, and after a play at the plate retired Higgins, Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch on the left leg to load the bases. He departed for pinch-runner Rafael Ortega. Here’s the update on Contreras:

With the bases loaded, Patrick Wisdom drew an RBI walk [VIDEO].

Schwindel followed with this sac fly to right to make it 7-3 [VIDEO].

Those two runs turned out to be important. Mychal Givens came in to throw the ninth in a non-save situation and promptly gave them right back on a two-run homer by Harrison Bader. But Givens then retired Tommy Edman on a groundout and struck out Cubs nemesis Paul Goldschmidt to end the game [VIDEO].

“Nemesis” is no joke about Goldschmidt, either. He was 1-for-5 in this game, but is having an MVP-type season and lifetime vs. the Cubs he is batting .310/.410/.582 with 22 home runs in 92 games. If the Cubs can continue to hold Goldschmidt down, they might have a chance to win some more games in this series, as the Cardinals are without two key hitters (Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill are both on the IL). Goldschmidt’s one hit did extend his hitting streak to 24 games. Perhaps the Cubs can end that streak Friday afternoon.

Opening the complaint department door just a tiny bit: Despite the seven runs, it could have been more. The Cubs again had trouble hitting with RISP, going just 2-for-10. But, as they say: A win’s a win. Here are David Ross’ postgame comments [VIDEO].

The second of this five-game series will happen at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and be opposed by Cardinals righthander Miles Mikolas. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Cardinals market territories).