Paul Goldschmidt hit a walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning, and the playoff-bound St. Louis Cardinals won for the 19th time in their last 20 games, 4-3 over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Tyler O’Neill homered twice and threw out the potential go-ahead run in the ninth inning for the Cardinals, who will play either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants in the NL wild-card game.
Dakota Hudson made his first start for the Cardinals in more than a year, allowing three hits in five scoreless innings. Hudson is returning from Tommy John surgery and worked in relief in his season debut on Sept. 24.
Andrew Knizner singled with one out in the ninth off Tommy Nance (1-1), and pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa also singled. Tommy Edman grounded out before Goldschmidt greeted Rowan Wick with a sharp single to left field that easily scored Knizner.
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In his previous at-bat in the eighth, Goldschmidt was robbed of a home run by center fielder Rafael Ortega, but the disappointment didn’t linger.
“Goldie’s as present as they’re going to come,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s got a present physical skillset but he’s also got an elite mindset. High, high, high baseball IQ. Sees the game very, very well and he’s just going to continue to be ready for that next moment.”
With the score tied 3-3, pinch-hitter Willson Contreras led off the ninth for the Cubs with a double off Giovanny Gallegos (6-5). Ortega singled to left with one out, but O’Neill’s throw home was on target and catcher Knizner tagged out Contreras.
Cory Abbott made his first career start for the Cubs, allowing two runs — both on homers by O’Neill — and one other hit in five innings.
“He pitches well. A lot of soft contact, a lot of missed barrels,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Loved the tempo with which he works. A really nice job.”
O’Neill has 34 homers this season, including five in his last five games against the Cubs. It was his fourth career multi-homer game.
“That’s exciting stuff. It’s fun to see,” Hudson said. “I mean geez, put that on the highlight reel. That’s great baseball.”
Trayce Thompson hit a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth against T.J. McFarland to put the Cubs ahead 3-2. Genesis Cabrera began the inning on the mound but was pulled for precautionary reasons with left middle finger discomfort after walking consecutive batters.
Lars Nootbaar tied it in the bottom of the sixth with a single that scored O’Neill.
“The boys got it done today. We’re just having some fun playing some good ball out there,” O’Neill said. “That was a good one.”
ONE MORE YEAR
St. Louis announced before the game that RHP Adam Wainwright has signed a one-year extension for the 2022 season. Wainwright has 184 career wins in his 17-year career, all with the Cardinals, and will start next week’s wild-card game.
“I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Wainwright said. “Who am I kidding?”
ONE MORE HOMER
Cubs OF Ian Happ needs one homer to top his career high of 24, set as a rookie in 2017.
Cubs: SS Nico Hoerner (right oblique tightness), OF Nick Martini and INF David Bote were all placed on the injured list.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina (right shoulder stiffness) did not start for the fourth straight game but is expected to play this weekend, manager Mike Shildt said. INF Edmundo Sosa (sore right hand) did not start for the seventh straight game. He pinch-hit in the ninth.
Cubs: Selected the contracts of OF Johneshwy Fargas and INF Tyler Ladendorf from Triple-A Iowa. Fargas pinch-hit in the ninth, popping up to the pitcher on a bunt attempt.
Adrian Sampson (1-2, 4.32 ERA) starts Saturday for Chicago against the Cardinals’ Jon Lester (7-6, 4.62).