CHICAGO (AP) — Joc Pederson homered for the third straight game, Sergio Alcántara and Ian Happ also went deep, and the Chicago Cubs used a five-run second inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 on Saturday night.
Kyle Hendricks (8-4) threw six solid innings for his sixth consecutive victory and the Cubs won for the seventh time in 11 games.
Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong hit home runs for the Cardinals, who have lost 10 of 12 and fell to .500 at 32-32 for the first time since April 28.
John Gant (4-4) lasted 1 2/3 innings to add to St. Louis’ rotation struggles, allowing five runs, five walks and a hit with just one strikeout.
“Made a lot of good defensive plays, took a lot of really quality at-bats, hit the ball hard all over the ballpark. Paul had a nice stroke. Not enough,” manager Mike Shildt said. “I’ve got to figure out a way to make it better. It’s ultimately on my shoulders.”
The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate in their five-run second. Happ hit a two-run shot to put the Cubs ahead 2-1 before Gant walked the next three batters — including Hendricks. Pederson popped out before Kris Bryant drew the fifth walk of the inning to score a run.
“We’ve done a lot of things that have been positive, but we haven’t been able to overcome this differential in walks and been giving away too much,” Shildt said. “Sometimes it’s been earned and sometimes we pitch around a guy, but there’s been way too many non-competitive ones, too.”
Jake Woodford replaced Gant and allowed an RBI single to Javier Báez before hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch to bring in another run.
“It’s just more of the same of what our guys have been doing,” Hendricks said. “They’ve been putting together unbelievable at-bats, going pitch-to-pitch so well. Really, all night, just did a really good job of responding.”
Woodford got his first major league hit — a single off Hendricks — in the next inning after DeJong hit a leadoff homer.
Alcántara added a solo shot off Woodford in the third.
Pederson again did a stutter step at third base to celebrate homering off Seth Elledge in the fourth, a move he’s copied from Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.
“When you get our offense to continue to have the at-bats they have, I think we’re never out of a game,” manager David Ross said. “I think we can put up a crooked number pretty fast.”
Arenado hit his 12th homer off Hendricks in the second inning. Hendricks leads the majors with 19 homers allowed. He gave up two runs and three hits.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the ninth, but Craig Kimbrel took the mound and got a groundout to end the game for his 17th save in 19 chances.
“I don’t think we’re concerned,” DeJong said. “I’m pretty sure we’re just out there playing the game. The Cubs are a good team. This is a wild place to play. We’re just trying to do as much as we can as a group.”
The crowd of 39,095 was larger than Friday’s 35,112, when Wrigley Field opened to full capacity for the first time since Sept. 22, 2019.
ON THE MOVE
Chicago recalled right-hander Trevor Megill (0-0, 0.00 ERA) from Triple-A Iowa and optioned righty Kohl Stewart (1-1, 5.68) to Iowa before the game.
The Cubs debuted their dark blue City Connect jerseys with light blue trim, all-caps “Wrigleyville” on the front and designs for Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods.
Ross said he didn’t wear a mask in the dugout because he didn’t have one to match his uniform. He said he was unaware of other Cubs going maskless. Chicago has yet to reach the 85% vaccination threshold for relaxing protocols.
Bryant played his first game at third base since April 20. He has seen time at all three outfield positions and first base.
Cardinals: LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (lower back tightness) is expected to throw another bullpen Sunday as he nears a return from the injured list. ... OF Justin Williams (neck stiffness) was set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis. ... RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) has been playing catch and hopes to contribute before the end of the season, Shildt said.
Cubs: INFs David Bote (dislocated left shoulder), Matt Duffy (low back strain) and Nico Hoerner (left hamstring strain) are progressing well, with Duffy likely ahead of the pack, Ross said. ... LHP Justin Steele (right hamstring strain) is close to throwing a bullpen, Ross said.
RHP Carlos Martínez (3-6, 6.21 ERA) will start Sunday’s series finale for the Cardinals against RHP Zach Davies (3-3, 4.45). Martínez has allowed 15 runs in 4 2/3 innings over his last two starts. Davies has given up five runs in his previous 20 1/3 innings.