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Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: Eight in a row

Jameson Taillon’s pitching and home runs from Ian Happ and Yan Gomes led the way.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs are defeating everyone and everything these days, including thunderstorms. Even a big storm that blew through St. Louis Saturday, delaying the game nearly two hours, couldn’t stop the streaking Cubs, who won their eighth in a row, 5-1 over the Cardinals. It’s the longest winning streak for the Cubs franchise since they won 11 in a row from July 31-August 12, 2016.

The win also moved the Cubs over .500 on the road at 26-25. It’s the first time they’ve been over .500 in road games this year since May 2, when they were 7-6 away from Wrigley Field.

Jameson Taillon allowed two hits and a sacrifice fly, scoring a run, to the first three St. Louis batters he faced. You could be forgiven if you thought, “Uh-oh, here we go again with bad Taillon,” after that.

But those were the only hits Taillon allowed in six strong innings of work. He did walk the bases loaded after the first two hitters were easy outs in the third, but got out of that unscathed.

The Cubs, meanwhile, set out to erase the 1-0 deficit, and did so in the top of the third. With one out, Mike Tauchman singled. One out later, Ian Happ gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].

That made it 2-1 Cubs, a lead they would not relinquish.

In the next inning, Christopher Morel walked with two out. Then it was Yan Gomes’ turn to smack a two-run homer [VIDEO].

Dylan Carlson didn’t miss catching that by much, but miss it he did, and the Cubs led 4-1.

As was the case with Taillon, Adam Wainwright was lifted after six innings, allowing four runs. Assuming Wainwright retires after this year, that was his final start against the Cubs. He made 50 of them in all (59 total appearances), posting 19 wins and 16 losses and a 4.05 ERA. He’s been a worthy opponent and I salute him on a fine MLB career.

Back to the game: The Cubs put one more on the board in the seventh. With one out, Nick Madrigal singled, his second hit in his return game from the injured list. One out later, Mike Tauchman doubled him in [VIDEO].

Michael Fulmer, Mark Leiter Jr., Javier Assad and Daniel Palencia threw three innings of shutout relief, allowing three hits and a walk, with one strikeout (Palencia). Here’s that strikeout, which was the final out, on a 98 mile per hour fastball by Palencia [VIDEO].

The Cubs nailed down their eighth straight win with a varied offense and solid pitching and defense, an excellent team effort. Here’s some of that defense, a comebacker induced by Assad with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth [VIDEO].

With the Brewers and Reds both losing Saturday, the Cubs edged to within 3½ games of the N.L. Central lead. They also stand three games behind the third wild card spot, currently inhabited by the Reds. I would think it’s now modest “buy” time for Jed Hoyer & Co., primarily looking for relief help. The bullpen has been pretty good lately, but it never hurts to have more arms. A power bat might be useful, too, but the Cubs have been scoring plenty of runs lately — they’ve outscored their opponents 54-27 during the winning streak and hit 13 home runs in the eight games. Maybe this offense is finally clicking the way I thought it would.

More props for Taillon: Over his last four starts, he has posted a 1.78 ERA and 0.987 WHIP, with just one home run allowed over 25⅓ innings, with a .191 opponents BA. This is the Taillon we thought the Cubs were getting when they signed him. Keep this up and he’ll have a very solid season after the awful start.

The Cubs have a chance to sweep this four-game series Sunday afternoon. I did some poking around baseball-reference and thought it had been a very long time since any Cubs team had done that in St. Louis, so I asked BCB’s JohnW53 to confirm that for me. Here’s what he found:

The last time the Cubs won four straight games in St. Louis was June 27-30, 1929. The scores were 5-4, 9-5, 10-7 and 14-8. But . . . the Cubs did not sweep that series! The teams played a fifth game, on July 1, that was halted after six innings with the score tied at 11. The last time that the Cubs played a four-game series in St. Louis and won them all was April 20-23, 1911. The scores were 9-5, 6-1, 7-4 and 7-0. This is their 62nd four-game series at St. Louis since then. They have gone 3-1 in only seven previous series: 1924, 1928, 1954, 1980, 1992, 2007 and 2017.

Also from JohnW53:

The Cubs are playing their 13th four-game series at St. Louis since 1994, when the National League was divided into three divisions. This is the first time they have won the first three games.

Either way, it has indeed been a VERY long time since the Cubs have either swept a four-game series or even won four straight in St. Louis. Way past time to get that done, I think.

The Cubs will go for that four-game sweep and nine straight wins Sunday afternoon. Kyle Hendricks, who has a 2.69 ERA in 25 lifetime starts vs. the Cardinals and is even better in 11 career starts at the current Busch Stadium (2.45), will start for the Cubs, and Steven Matz will take the mound for St. Louis. Game time is 1:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.

Today’s game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.