The Cardinals have now won back-to-back games after losing seven in a row, helping them maintain some semblance of a shot in the National League Wild Card race. Chicago's magic number for clinching the NL Central remained at two, ensuring that the chase for the division title will go on for at least one more day.
Making it even sweeter, the Redbirds' initial assault came against Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, who, until a weak outing last month, had consistently taken them to school. Zambrano threw a no-hitter in his previous start, but on Friday, he'd been charged with three base hits, a walk and a run before he had recorded his first out.
"We put together some good at-bats early on," Kennedy said. "It was a fun win for us, coming in here with what's at stake for everybody."
Starter Adam Wainwright was a bit iffy for the second start in a row, but he survived it this time. It surely helped that he had five runs before he took the mound and three more before he pitched the second inning. But he also did a much better job this time around of getting the most out of himself on a day when he was less than fully sharp.
Wainwright needed 107 pitches to get through five innings, a clear indication that he wasn't exactly himself. Yet he could easily have finished with no earned runs, had a questionable scoring decision not gone against him.
"It wasn't great," he said. "I was battling. Not as hard as last time, but I didn't have good stuff today. I had very average stuff. I was able to make good pitches in certain situations and get out of some jams, but my team was really the story."
The only runs against Wainwright came in large part because of a misplay by Kennedy. A second baseman by trade, he's started the last two games in right field, and for the most part, he's played well there. But on Friday, he couldn't get a glove on a relatively routine liner from Daryle Ward in the fifth.
Instead of Kennedy being charged with an error, Ward got an RBI double. The next batter, Casey McGehee, drove in a run with a groundout that should have been the third out of the inning.
But that was about all that went poorly for Kennedy, who posted the 14th four-hit game of his Major League career. His first-inning grand slam made it 5-0, and he added an RBI single in a three-run second. He also singled in the fourth and doubled in the sixth.
And it all came on the day that Kennedy's trade request appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Kennedy signed with St. Louis before the 2007 season to be the regular second baseman. But he struggled his way to the worst season of his career in '07, and though he's bounced back somewhat this year, he's shared time with Aaron Miles and new acquisition Felipe Lopez. So he approached team management to request that he be traded this offseason to a team where he could start.
"One of the guys mentioned something about a demand," Kennedy said. "It definitely wasn't that. It was getting together and talking about the plans for next season and the offseason. That's what's on my mind. I just want to play."
The motion was actually reasonably well-received by the team. La Russa said he understood where Kennedy was coming from, and spoke highly of how the veteran has carried himself.
"If he was to go somewhere, I would always pull for him," La Russa said. "He's handled the situation with terrific professionalism. I like him personally. I just felt like the best way to go was the way I went. It's been tough for him to take, but he's handled it."
And he may have started to help pave his way to another situation on Friday.