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Quick Hits: Lars Nootbaar's ninth-inning single completes Cardinals' rally past Cubs

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The Cardinals drew even on the loss side with the Milwaukee Brewers at the top of the National League Central Division Thursday. Moments after the Brewers had been swept in a three-game series at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals completed a comeback to beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3 at Busch Stadium in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. 

One-one walks in the ninth to Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong preceded Lars Nootbaar's single to right off rooke Erich Uelman, with Arenado sliding home ahead of catcher Willson Contreras' tag. The Cubs had led 3-0 before the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the seventh, sparked by homers from Nolan Gorman and Paul Goldschmidt.

Before the Cardinals take the field for Game 2 Thursday night, they are at 56-48 and the Brewers at 57-48. Another Cardinals win would create a tie for the lead. 

Another homer off Mikolas

Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, who pitched 6 1/3 effective innings, allowed an opposite-field, 407-foot homer to Contreras in the first inning. Mikolas has given up homers in six of his past seven starts, totaling seven home runs. Contreras had been just three for 18 on the Cubs’ two-city trip until Thursday.

Cubs’ Stroman is a different pitcher

The Cardinals had belabored Cubs starter Marcus Stroman for 10 hits and nine runs over four innings in a 14-5 Cardinals win on June 3 in Chicago. But Stroman was a little harder to deal with on Thursday. The Cardinals didn’t get the ball out of the infield through three innings, amassing just one hit. Brendan Donovan’s two-out single in the third.

 Gorman was the first Cardinal to reach the outfield as the leadoff hitter in the home fourth. But center fielder Rafael Ortega made a leaping catch in left center before brushing the wall.

Cubs pull away, briefly, in sixth

Contreras struck again in the sixth, doubling to left center to key a two-run inning. After Ian Happ fanned for the third time, Seiya Suzuki singled to right center, scoring Contreras.

On the rarely seen hit-and-run, Nico Hoerner singled to right center, sending Suzuki to third.

Patrick Wisdom, who had a whopping 133 strikeouts, was the next hitter and Mikolas sorely needed either a strikeout or double play here. He got neither as Wisdom flied to deep right center and Suzuki cruised home.

Mikolas is irked, then replaced  

With Nelson Velazquez in the box and a 2-1 count in the seventh, time was called by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari. Velazquez, who had stepped out of the batter's box, was back in the box when Mikolas threw a strike which didn’t count--time was still out, apparently--stirring his ire and that of Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol with Hamari.

Before the inning was over, Mikolas, in a mild form of retaliation, would ask for a new ball from Hamari and then throw it into the Cardinals’ dugout and then drop another one tossed him by Hamari. Second baseman Gorman scooped up that one and threw it off the field.

Also, before the inning was over, Mikolas was gone.

David Bote beat out an infield and went to third on Ortega’s single off Gorman’s glove.

Right-hander James Naile, the 27th player for this doubleheader, entered to get Contreras to tap to the mound. Eschewing a potential double play at second base, Naile threw home and Bote got into a rundown long enough for the Cubs to wind up with runners at second and third.

But Naile was equal to the task anyway, retiring Happ on a grounder to Gorman. The Cardinals, fired up by this escape and perhaps by Mikolas's passion, then roared back.

Gorman, Goldschmidt spark comeback

Leading off the Cardinals’ seventh, Gorman homered into the Cubs’ bullpen in left center for the Cardinals’ first run, also extending their home-run streak to 12 games. Twelve also is the number of home runs for rookie Gorman this season.

Ten was the number of pitches seen by Goldschmidt when he hit a 420-foot homer off a full-count offering. That drive was his 26th homer of the season.

The Cardinals proceeded to tie the game at 3-3. Arenado doubled over the head of left fielder Velazquez. He scored the equalizer on consecutive deep fly outs by DeJong and Nootbaar.

Rick Hummel

@cmshhummel on Twitter

rhummel@post-dispatch.com

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