CHICAGO (AP) — Slumping Kyle Schwarber hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally the Chicago Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Schwarber, who entered batting .163 and was dropped to the ninth spot in the lineup, hit the first pitch of the at-bat from St. Louis starter Mike Leake (5-4) deep into the bleachers in left-center.
Javier Baez also homered for Chicago, which has won two straight following a six-game losing streak.
Yadier Molina homered and Jose Martinez had two RBIs for the Cardinals.
Hector Rondon (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win. Wade Davis got the final three outs for his 12th save.
Leake, who entered leading the National League with a 2.24 ERA, allowed five runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Cardinals grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning before making an out. Cubs starter Jon Lester walked Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty sandwiched around a single by Tommy Pham to load the bases. Martinez, starting in place of the slumping Matt Carpenter, followed with a broken-bat, two-run single in to right field.
Lester, though, settled down and got Molina to hit into a double play and Jhonny Peralta to pop out to end the threat.
Leake retired the first six batters before Baez led off the third with a long homer to straightaway center to trim the lead in half.
Molina got the run back in the sixth with a two-out solo shot to make it 3-1.
That’s where it stayed until the bottom of the seventh. Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras each singled to put runners on first and third with one out. Leake then struck out Baez with a slider well off the plate and appeared on the verge of getting out of the jam.
But he hit pinch hitter Jon Jay with a pitch to load the bases. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny had left-hander Kevin Siegrist warming in the bullpen, but opted to stay with Leake against Schwarber, who had grounded out and struck out in his previous at-bats.
Cubs: SS Addison Russell essentially was given a mental health day off. With Russell struggling at the plate — he entered batting .213 and was hitless in last three games — manager Joe Maddon felt it was a good time to let the 23-year-old sit and watch. “I don’t want him to get too many at-bats while he’s struggling right now,” Maddon said.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-3, 3.75 ERA) and Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (2-3, 3.99) square off in the series finale on Sunday night. Both are looking to bounce back from rough starts. Hendricks gave up five runs in five innings against the Padres on May 29, snapping a streak of 48 starts giving up four runs or less. Wacha lasted just three innings against the Dodgers on May 30, allowing four runs (three earned).