Paul Goldschmidt hits 34th homer as Cardinals beat Cubs 8-4

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS – Paul Goldschmidt hit his 34th homer, and the surging St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.

Tommy Edman and Tyler O'Neill also went deep for NL Central-leading St. Louis, which improved to 27-8 in its last 35 games. Yadier Molina had two hits and three RBIs, and Adam Wainwright (10-9) pitched five innings of four-run ball for the win.

Goldschmidt’s two-run homer off Drew Smyly (5-8) in the first lifted the All-Star slugger to an NL-best 107 RBIs. He also tops the NL with a .331 batting average and trails Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber for the NL lead in homers by two.

With the win, the Cardinals have won their last seven series and are 10-1-1 in their last 12 series.

In his first start since turning 41 on Aug. 30, Wainwright allowed nine hits, struck out two and walked two.

St. Louis turned four double plays in the victory.

Franmil Reyes and Rafael Ortega each had two hits and two RBIs for Chicago, which has dropped six of seven. Smyly was tagged for seven runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Reyes singled in Seiya Suzuki and Ortega added a two-run single as the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. But O’Neill walked ahead of Goldschmidt’s drive to right in the bottom half.

Goldschmidt has seven homers and 16 RBIs against the Cubs this season. He is one shy of the team record of eight homers against Chicago held by Matt Carpenter (2018), Jim Edmonds (2004), Albert Pujols (2004), Stan Musial (1950) and Rogers Hornsby (1925).

St. Louis went ahead to stay with six runs in the third.

Edman led off with a drive to right-center, and O’Neill followed with a shot to left. It was the 13th homer for each hitter. Molina added a three-run double to right off Jeremiah Estrada.

A PAIR BEYOND COMPARE

Wainwright, who is the fourth-oldest active MLB player, and Molina made their 323rd career start as batterymates. It’s the second-most all-time in MLB history (since 1901), trailing the Detroit Tigers’ duo of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (324) from 1963-75.

SATURDAY IN THE PARK

St. Louis improved to 17-6 on Saturdays this season, including 9-3 at home. Saturday is its most successful day of the week.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: C Willson Contreras (left ankle soreness) remains out of the lineup. … INF Patrick Wisdom (left ring finger sprain) has did some hitting in the batting cage for the first time. … RHP Keegan Thompson (low back tightness) has thrown a bullpen session for the first time since he was hurt in an Aug. 19 start.

Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz (torn left knee MCL) is going to begin a rehab assignment. Before the game, Matz did some fielding work and emerged with no side effects.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Marcus Stroman (3-6, 3.98 ERA) will make his seventh career start (fourth this season) against St. Louis. He is 1-3 with a 6.06 ERA lifetime against the Cardinals, including an 0-2 record with a 9.77 ERA in three starts in 2022.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (10-10, 3.48 ERA) has held the Cubs to one run or less in five of seven career starts against Chicago at Busch Stadium. St. Louis is 3-1 in his starts against the Cubs this season.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).