ST. LOUIS — There aren’t many nights in which three hits are enough, but it happened Sunday for the Cubs as they got some instant offense to earn a victory in the series finale against the Cardinals.
Javy Baez came up with the big blow, a two-run shot in the 10th inning that helped the Cubs win 2-1 and take two of three from their rivals.
“Every time we come here, we’re going to have good games, really close games against the Cardinals,” Baez said.
The game started slowly for the offense, which had only two hits in eight innings against longtime Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. It was going to take extra innings to determine the winner of the game and the series.
“I didn’t know what happened,” said manager David Ross, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning. “We were on delay [watching] in the training room, and the locker room kind of erupted. I thought we just got a run in, and then it turned out to be a home run. That was exciting.”
Baez was looking to do one thing with “inherited runner” Willson Contreras on third base with one out. He swung through the first curveball Cardinals closer Alex Reyes threw, but Reyes tried to sneak another one by Baez, and this time he didn’t miss.
Baez crushed it 417 feet to straightaway center field.
“Seeing the curveball,” Baez said. “The first swing, I saw it and just swung. I was kind of in between with the fastball and the curveball, but I just decided to cover one pitch. . . . I hit it good. I just didn’t know if it was gone or not. But either way, we were going to get the go-ahead run in.”
Tepera, bullpen come up big
Baez’s home run might have been the biggest play, but the biggest moment came in the seventh inning. After Tommy Nance allowed the first two runners to reach, Ryan Tepera came in to try to get out of a big jam. After not being able to get an out on Wainwright’s sacrifice-bunt attempt, the inning got even tougher with the bases loaded and no outs.
“Handing the ball off to whoever’s next, it’s just nice to know that they’re going to shut the door,” said Zach Davies, who threw five scoreless innings. “It’s easy as a pitcher to get your work done, then hand it off and know what comes next.”
But Tepera worked magic against the top of the Cardinals’ order, getting Tommy Edman to ground into a forceout and Paul Goldschmidt to pop out before striking out Nolan Arenado to get out of the jam. Tepera, Nance, Dan Winkler, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel didn’t allow an earned run during the last five innings.
“We’ve used [Tepera] a lot,” Ross said. “He got a couple of days off going into today because he needed them, and then to come back out there and be as sharp as he was, that was really impressive.
‘‘Really nice outing for him, getting out of a big jam against some of the better hitters in the National League.”