Cards unable to cap Fowler's reunion with win

Cards unable to cap Fowler's reunion with win

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo's heads-up baserunning allowed him to score on Jason Heyward's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, which lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, ending their losing skid at six games.

"It's good to come home," Rizzo said after the Cubs' 0-6 trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. "The atmosphere with the fans was unbelievable today, especially after a six-game skid. To get this win was nice to let everyone loosen up a little bit. We beat a good team."

Facing Trevor Rosenthal with the game tied at 2 in the eighth, Rizzo doubled over the head of rookie left fielder Magneuris Sierra and advanced on Ben Zobrist's groundout. Rizzo had hesitated, then sprinted to third after Jhonny Peralta threw to first. Rizzo scored on Heyward's fly ball to center.

Rizzo's heads-up baserunning

"We're not fast, but I think we run the bases well as a group," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's not afraid to make mistakes. That's what we're looking for."

The Cubs welcomed Dexter Fowler back to Wrigley Field, presenting him with his World Series ring, and then he showed them how much they miss him. Fowler smacked his 23rd career leadoff home run, and second this year, to open the game for the Cardinals.

Fowler gets his ring, ovation

"The ring ceremony was cool -- it's good to see his smile," said Rizzo, who presented Fowler with his ring. "The fans here are accustomed to that smile. It's good to see him get that ring."

Fowler, who was the leadoff man the past two seasons for the Cubs, launched a 3-2 pitch from Chicago starter John Lackey into the right-field bleachers for his eighth homer of the season. According to Statcast™, the exit velocity registered at 107.5 mph, Fowler's hardest-hit homer of the season.

"I know John; John knows me," Fowler said. "I know he's going to come after me from the beginning. It was just about finding a good pitch to hit."

Bryant's towering solo homer

The Cubs' offense continued to scuffle despite a shakeup in the lineup in which rookie Ian Happ was inserted into the leadoff spot and Kyle Schwarber was dropped to seventh. Kris Bryant belted his 12th home run, a solo shot, with two outs in the third and Heyward tied the game at 2 with an RBI double in the sixth.

"We haven't been playing badly, we just have not been hitting," Maddon said of the Cubs, who totaled five hits on Friday. "You can't say we killed it today on offense, we just pitched well enough. You have to pitch better than good pitching to win some days. And we played good defense."

Cardinals' miscues prove decisive

The Cardinals missed an opportunity in the eighth when they loaded the bases on three walks by Carl Edwards Jr., but Pedro Strop struck out Yadier Molina to end the inning.

Strop rings up Yadi in the 8th

"We could have used a big hit, no question," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We were in a good spot. We just weren't able to get the hit we needed."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Just in time: Sierra arrived just in time for the Cardinals. Aledmys Diaz singled to lead off the St. Louis second, moved up on a wild pitch and scored one out later on Sierra's single to center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sierra's eight-game hitting streak ties Homer Smoot (1902) for the longest by a Cardinal to start his career since 1900. Sierra was called up while Jedd Gyorko is on paternity leave.

Sierra's RBI single

Start me up: Cardinals starter Lance Lynn limited the Cubs to two hits over 5 1/3 innings, including Bryant's home run, but he departed after walking Rizzo and Zobrist with one out in the sixth. Heyward greeted lefty Tyler Lyons with an RBI double to tie the game at 2, and pinch-hitter Willson Contreras was intentionally walked. Matt Bowman then got pinch-hitter Jon Jay to ground into an inning-ending double play.

"It's a lefty and they're going to try to make pitches and try to get you to chase some and you have to try to pick a good one to hit," said Heyward, who leads the Cubs with a .293 average with runners in scoring position.

Cardinals turn key double play

QUOTABLE
"Those are memories, memories that you never lose and I can say getting a ring is like completing another chapter in my life."
-- Fowler, on how he looks back on the Cubs' championship run last year

"We needed a win. It doesn't matter if it's versus the Cardinals or a college team. I really think the home crowd lifted us a little bit today." -- Rizzo

Rizzo on the 3-2 win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs have given up 14 first-inning home runs, tied for the most in the Majors with the Reds and Angels. In 2015, the Cubs gave up 19 first-inning home runs; and last year, they served up 20.

WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals: Mike Leake looks to continue his strong start to the season Saturday at Wrigley Field. The right-hander leads the National League in ERA (2.24) and has recorded a quality start in nine of his 10 outings. Leake is 9-6 with a 3.50 ERA in 24 career starts against the Cubs, but he was 0-3 last season. First pitch is 1:20 p.m. CT.

Cubs: Jon Lester will try to get back on track on Saturday in the second game of this series against the Cardinals at 1:20 CT. In his last outing, the lefty gave up a pair of three-run homers against the Dodgers and lasted just 3 1/3 innings. He's 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six home starts this season.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Cardinals on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.