ST. LOUIS – The biggest cheer Friday night at Busch Stadium went up when the scoreboard showed the Colorado Rockies taking an 8-2 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Rockies would go on to win the game, 11-7.
That was about all the St. Louis Cardinals fans in the crowd of 46,530 had to yell about as the Cubs snapped a nine-game losing streak and beat the Cardinals, 8-2.
The spoiler role is the only one the Cubs can play now, as the Cardinals eliminated them from the National League Central race last weekend with a sweep at Wrigley Field.
With St. Louis and Milwaukee losing, the Cardinals (90-70) still hold a one-game lead over the Brewers (89-71). The third-place Cubs improved to 83-77.
The Cubs scored seven runs in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie. Ian Happ and Robel Garcia homered for the Cubs.
For the past few years of this decade, the Cubs supplanted the Cardinals as the team to beat in the Central.
The Cardinals knocked the Cubs out of the 2019 division race last weekend and were looking to take back what their fans think is their rightful place in the division.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team was trying to beat the Cardinals, but Maddon was not going to risk the health of injured players Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant by pushing them to play.
“You want to have meaningful games in September, because when you don’t, that really becomes difficult for everybody – fan bases, players, front offices, coaches, managers,” Maddon said. “Of course we’re playing to win tonight, but it is a different feeling. I can’t deny that.”
In the other dugout, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was praising his team’s dedication.
“When you have good habits like this group, when you come to play every day, and you come to compete every day, and you prepare the way this group prepares, and you put yourself in this opportunity, and that’s the way you embrace it and look forward to playing, you just go play,” Shildt said.
DARVISH UNLIKELY TO LEAVE
Just as Jason Heyward wasn’t going to opt out of his lengthy and expensive contract early, it’s also highly unlikely pitcher Yu Darvish will take the opt-out on his six-year, $126 million deal this winter
“I haven’t decided yet,” Darvish said Friday. “I have to talk to my family and agent, too. My kids and my wife love Chicago, especially the kids. They only care about the Cubbies. So, I don’t think [I will opt out].”
The Cubs have shut down Darvish for the final weekend of the season. He threw 1782/3 innings this season after pitching only 40 during an injury-plagued 2018 season, his first with the Cubs. He finished this season 6-8 with a 3.98 ERA.
“The second half, I was so surprised what I’m doing, especially command wise,” he said. “I’m so happy.”
Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos was a late lineup scratch because of tightness in his right groin.
The Cubs said Castellanos suffered the injury during pregame workouts.