St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter hadn't pitched since he won Game 7 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers last October, but the right-hander looked solid in his return to the mound on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, the Cardinals' bullpen faltered in the bottom of the 11th inning in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Carpenter threw five innings of two-run, five-hit ball against the Cubs (59-92) in his first start since undergoing surgery in July for thoracic outlet syndrome (a rare condition that involves pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness and tingling of the fingers, and a weak grip). He was activated from the 60-day DL last Friday.
St. Louis (80-71) struck first, when Yadier Molina singled off of Cubs starter Chris Volstad to score center fielder Jon Jay. They added another run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Allen Craig that drove in Carlos Beltran.
Chicago struck back in the bottom of the third, when center fielder David DeJesus led off the inning with a triple and scored on a single by Darwin Barney. Alfonso Soriano later drove in Barney with a double to left field to knot the game at 2-2.
The Cardinals responded immediately in the top of the fourth inning, when shortstop Peter Kozma tripled to lead off the inning and stole home, and added an insurance run in the top of the eighth when Daniel Descalso doubled home third baseman Matt Carpenter to give them a 4-2 lead.
But when right-hander Fernando Salas tried to close the door in the ninth inning in place of Cards closer Jason Motte -- who had the night off because he'd pitched in three straight games -- the Cardinals faltered. Salas surrendered a two-run homer on a two-out, two-strike count to Barney that tied the game at 4-4.
Cubs catcher Welington Castillo led off the bottom on the 11th with a single off of Cardinals starter-turned-reliever Joe Kelly. Right fielder Dave Sappelt bunted pinch-runner Brett Jackson to second, and pinch hitter Steve Clevenger hit a sacrifice fly to right to move Jackson to third. With two out, David DeJesus plated Jackson with a base hit to right field to give the Cubs the walkoff.
The Cardinals saw their lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card standings drop to two games after the loss on Friday.
The second game of the three-game set is scheduled for 12:05 p.m CT at Wrigley Field and will pit Adam Wainwright (13-13) against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood (6-12).
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