(The Sports Xchange) - Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back solo home runs in the fifth inning as the Cubs beat St. Louis 5-4 on Saturday, a result that temporarily stalled the Cardinals from clinching a playoffs-berth.
The Cardinals could have clinched a playoff spot with a victory and they put the tying run on first in the ninth before shortstop Addison Russell made a diving grab and flip for a forceout at second to deny them that opportunity.
They still became the first team to earn a post-season place following Arizona’s 6-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Saturday’s match was again tense, a day after Cubs manager Joe Maddon criticized Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle for hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.
Both benches were warned after the Cubs’ Fernando Rodney hit second baseman Kolten Wong in the eighth inning, the second time Wong was hit.
Hector Rondon hit pinch hitter Greg Garcia in the ninth, resulting in Rondon and Maddon being ejected. Maddon said all were unintentionally hit.
“I know nobody wants to believe me,” Maddon said. “You’re not going to believe me. All the Cardinal Nation, god bless you, you’re not going to want to believe me.”
The Cardinals had the opportunity to clinch the game with a ninth-inning rally when Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run off Zac Rosscup to make it 5-3.
Center fielder Tommy Pham and right fielder Jason Heyward then hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with none out.
Reliever Pedro Strop then struck out shortstop Jhonny Peralta and while catcher Yadier Molina made it a one-run game with a sacrifice fly, Strop got Stephen Piscotty to hit into a forceout at second to end the game and earn his third save.
“Earlier in the year, we were not able to hold on against these guys late,” Maddon said.
“I said in the beginning of the year they were out-experiencing us. Right now, we’re catching up in that regard. Give them a lot of credit because they always fight to the last drop.”
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury