ST. LOUIS (AP) — Four pitchers combined for five innings of scoreless, two-hit relief after Miles Mikolas appeared to injure his forearm in his delayed season debut, and Yadier Molina hit a tiebreaking home run that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals over the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Saturday night.
Molina broke a 1-1 tie when he led off the seventh inning with his seventh home run this season, connecting on a slider with an 0-2 count from Adbert Alzolay (2-4).
“I mean, we were pounding him with fastballs in the beginning,” Alzolay said about Molina. “I was feeling good about my slider but I left the pitch right over the middle. He got a good swing and he hit a homer.”
As Molina was stepping into the batter's box, the videoboard showed a marriage proposal. Molina paused before hitting and flashed a big smile at the moment the young couple kissed.
“That was awesome, big time," Molina said. “Most of the time I don't look at it, but this time I did and I was hoping she'd say yes. I was happy for them. That moment for them was unbelievable for them and I wish them the best for the wedding.”
Mikolas, a 32-year-old right-hander who won 18 games in 2018, was activated Saturday for his first major league start since the 2019 NL Championship Series. He missed last season after flexor tendon surgery, then hurt his pitching shoulder in his first bullpen session of 2021.
Manager Mike Shildt said Mikola was undergoing an MRI after the game.
““I have nothing substantial other than it’s in his forearm,” Shildt said. ”We're clearly hoping for the best and a positive return. I appreciate him being honest about how he felt.”
Mikolas allowed three hits in four innings, struck out three and walked one, falling behind in the first after he bounced a breaking ball off Joc Pederson's back foot with his second pitch. Willson Contreras hit a one-out single and Javier Báez had a two-out RBI single.
Mikolas was warming up to start the fifth, pitching to backup catcher Andrew Knizner while Molina was putting on his catcher's gear after making the last out of the fourth, when the pitcher grabbed his right elbow, then looked toward the St. Louis dugout. An athletic trainer, pitching coach Mike Maddux and then Shildt came out.
Mikolas, who had thrown 59 pitches, left with what the team called right forearm tightness.
Daniel Ponce de Leon entered and retired five batters around a walk, Génesis Cabrera (1-1) struck out three of his four batters, Giovanny Gallegos gave up a one-out single and a walk in the eighth and Alex Reyes finished a five-hitter to remain perfect in 14 save chances.
Ponce de Leon took his time getting warmed up. He recalled the last time he was in that situation and he hurried to pitch before he should have. The result then was a grand slam by Nolan Arenado, now his teammate.
“That was my second time doing this,” Ponce de Leon said. “I made sure I took my time and got loose. It went well.”
The Cubs scored 12 runs on 12 hits in a 12-3 win on Friday.
“We just didn’t hit today. We just weren’t there tonight offensively,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “They’re a good team. They have good pitching. Their bullpen is solid. They compete. They always compete.”
Alzolay gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings in his first start at Busch Stadium. He struck out six and walked none.
“I thought that was a really nice outing for him,” Chicago manager David Ross said.
Molina has 225 hits against the Cubs, the most among active Cardinals and tying Ozzie Smith for ninth-most. Molina's 111 RBIs against the Cubs moved past Hall of Famer Ted Simmons into sole possession of eighth place.
Cardinals RHP Seth Elledge was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Elledge has made four major league appearances this season, allowing four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed all six inherited runners to score.
Cubs: RHP Alec Mills (lower back strain) will make a rehab start Sunday and RHP Trevor Megill (right forearm strain) will throw batting practice Sunday with Triple-A Iowa. ... Manager David Ross said relief pitcher Jason Adam underwent surgery Friday on a dislocated left ankle. Adam, playing with the Triple-A Iowa, left batting practice Friday in an ambulance after Adam jumped for a ball and came down awkwardly on his ankle. ... Jason Heyward (left hamstring strain) did light agility work.
Cardinals: LF Dylan Carlson (back tightness) was scratched from the starting lineup. Thomas took his spot in right field. ... SS Paul DeJong (fractured rib) won't be activated from the 10-day injured list when eligible on Sunday. Shildt said DeJong hasn't been cleared for baseball activities. ... LHP Andrew Miller (blister on toe of right foot) will pitch for Triple-A Memphis on a rehabilitation assignment Tuesday or Wednesday.
Cubs RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 5.28) starts Sunday night against RHP Adam Wainwright (2-4, 4.63) in the series finale. Davis is scheduled to make his team-high 10th start of the season and his 11th career start against the Cardinals. Wainwright leads active pitchers against the Cubs in wins (17), losses (13), starts (42), innings (262 1/3) and strikeouts (230).