Jason Heyward had three hits and two RBIs, Ian Happ belted a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-6 on Thursday night in baseball's first game after the All-Star break.
Anthony Rizzo added two doubles from the leadoff spot as Chicago kicked off a five-game series against St. Louis with its fourth consecutive victory. Victor Caratini had three hits and scored three times, and Ben Zobrist delivered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the Cubs' five-run fifth inning.
With Chicago and St. Louis returning a day earlier than the rest of the majors, Cubs manager Joe Maddon held All-Stars Willson Contreras and Javier Baez out of the starting lineup. Caratini and Zobrist picked up the slack quite nicely as the NL Central leaders increased their advantage to a season-high three games over idle Milwaukee.
Yadier Molina matched a career high with four hits for St. Louis, but interim manager Mike Shildt was handed his first loss in his second game in charge after Mike Matheny was fired Saturday night. Tommy Pham and Matt Carpenter each hit a solo homer.
The Cardinals had a 3-1 lead before the Cubs started teeing off on Carlos Martinez (6-6) in the fifth.
Caratini singled, advanced to second on shortstop Paul DeJong's throwing error and scored on Rizzo's stinging double into the gap in right-center. Heyward hit a tying RBI single and Zobrist followed with a fly ball to center, driving in Kris Bryant for a 4-3 lead.
Happ then hit a drive deep to right-center for his 12th homer. He also went deep in his previous game, connecting for a solo shot in Saturday night's 11-6 victory at San Diego.
Brian Duensing (3-0) got the last out of the fifth for the win. Pedro Strop got one out for his third save after the Cubs placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list as part of a flurry of pregame moves.
Martinez allowed six runs, five earned, and seven hits in five innings. The right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in his previous four starts.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks also struggled, yielding nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. But he wiggled out of a couple jams while limiting the Cardinals to three runs.
Cubs ace Jon Lester and Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty get the ball this afternoon. Lester (12-2, 2.58 ERA) is 8-0 with a 2.80 ERA in his last nine starts. Flaherty (3-4, 3.24 ERA) pitched five shutout innings in a no-decision against Cincinnati in his previous start on Saturday.