His former Milwaukee Brewers would like nothing better than for Dale Sveum to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals out of the playoff picture this weekend.
“Even if we sweep them, they’re not out of it,” the Cubs manager said Friday. “Hopefully you do knock them down a little.”
The Cubs did just that in a stunning comeback thanks to a two-out, two strike, two-run homer by Darwin Barney in the ninth tying the game at 4-4; and then a two-out single from David DeJesus sending pinch runner Brett Jackson home from the 5-4 victory in the 11th inning.
“It’s great when you get a chance to be `that other team’–and I’ve been on a few,” said DeJesus, whose career with the Kansas City Royals before coming to the Cubs was often about playing spoiler.
“But it helps you play up to the game, too,” he added.
Character building is not to be ignored in this otherwise disappointing Cubs season.
It took Barney and DeJesus in the end, but six relievers had to pitch in for starter Chris Volstad, who worked five innings and gave up three hits.
“Chris kept it close and [Alberto] Cabrera got his first major league win, and that’s great,” DeJesus said.
It also took a great defensive stretch at first base by Anthony Rizzo in the top of the 10th to help Barney see his errorless streak reach 136 games.
Barney’s throw after fielding Matt Carpenter’s ground ball was wide of the bag, but Rizzo reached it, and then stretched his foot back to tag the base ahead of Carpenter.
“It was unbelievable,” Barney said. “I rushed it a little and thought he’d get down the line a little faster than he did.
“I don’t know what I’m going to get [Rizzo], but I’ll get him something.”
What the Cubs got was a game closer to their goal of avoiding 100 losses–they need four more victories for that.
And they got a measure of satisfaction over the rival Cardinals, who are trying to grab the second wild card and defend their world championship status.
They saw their lead over the charging Brewers shrink to 2 games as the Brewers prepared to play the Washington Nationals.
“We have a lot of young guys, so the rivalry [with the Cardinals] has to build up,” Sveum said. “But a rivalry is a rivalry, and it’s more so because it’s a big game for us to get to our goal and possibly knock someone out of the playoffs.”
That is the September obligation for every non-contender, while for the hopeful Cardinals, it’s the reason a pitcher like former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter would be put into service in game 151 after missing the season after a shoulder injury.
Carpenter has missed all of this season after undergoing surgery to relieve the shoulder nerve condition called thoracic outlet syndrome. His lifetime 11-6 record and 3.05 ERA against the Cubs were valid credentials for the “season debut” with only 12 games left.
Carpenter worked five innings, giving up two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out two and would have gotten the victory had the Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas not given up Barney’s seventh homer and Joe Kelly (5-7) retired DeJesus.
“It’s a goal for us to beat a team like that,” Barney said. “It’s good playing games that matter. When you’re not playing a contender, it’s just not as exciting.
“We played ourselves out of [contention] early, so it’s good to be playing these games.”