The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t play strong defense

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The Chicago first baseman and No. 3 hitter was 0-for-3 with a walk Friday night when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs, two on base, and the trailing Cincinnati, 5-2. Reds right-hander was working his second inning and Wandy Peralta, Cincinnati’s only left-hander, was warmed up. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price decided to stick with Lorenzen.

’s heads-up baserunning allowed him to score on ’s sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, which lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, ending their losing skid at six games.

“Just to challenge him and throw every pitch with conviction, just like every single hitter, just like every single other pitch that I throw,” Lorenzen said. “With that, I threw it with conviction. He got me. Just tip your cap to him. He’s a good hitter. It’s Anthony Rizzo for a reason. “You never think home run,” Rizzo said. “These guys do pitch me up-and-in a lot. Off the bat, I thought, yeah, but the wind was kind of strong. I thought it might be a long single if it hit the top of the wall.”

Anthony Rizzo enters the clubhouse with his father, John, and his older brother, John Jr., an offensive lineman at Florida Atlantic. The Rizzo boys are built like square blocks of concrete. Anthony is barely out of high school, 18 years old, 6-foot-3 and a solid 215. Boston took him in the sixth round of the 2007 draft as a 17-year-old–but paid him third-round money because of that body. This kid from Florida, people around the club think, could become a .

But opponents scored 4.4 runs against the Cardinals last season, with the starting rotation seventh in the NL with a 4.33 ERA. The result was a slide to an 86-78 record, which left them one game out of a tie-breaker game for a Wild Card spot.

It was a grind all season, thanks in part to the loss of Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery and being signed away by the Cubs. The worst part for manager Mike Matheny was that the Cardinals didn’t play strong defense. Baseball Prospectus’ ranking for Defensive Efficiency dropped them to 24th in the Majors, down from 16th the year before.

“It’s good to come home,” Rizzo said after the Cubs’ 0-6 trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. “The atmosphere with the fans was unbelievable today, especially after a six-game skid. To get this win was nice to let everyone loosen up a little bit. We beat a good team.” 

“The thing is I’ve played here before as a visitor before going over to the home side, so it’s a familiar area there,” he said. “It’s not like when I was at Colorado the first time coming back. I had never been on the visiting side [in Colorado]. I’ve seen the old [home] clubhouse over there, the new clubhouse and I’m back over here.”

Following two years in Chicago, Fowler signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the Cardinals in the offseason. It was more money and years than the Cubs were willing to cheap mlb jerseys commit, but Fowler was asked if he would have stayed with the Cubs if the money was similar.

While Cubs starting pitchers compiled a 2.96 ERA last season, best in the Majors, the fielding behind them was even more off the charts. Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and their compadres not only ranked No. 1 in BP’s defensive metric but the gap between them and the second-ranked Blue Jays was bigger than the one between Toronto and the 27th-ranked Mets.

Cubs #44 Anthony Rizzo Grey USMC Cool Base Stitched MLB Jersey

The crowd was reminded of those accomplishments before the game when Fowler was presented with his World Series ring during an on-field ceremony. Former teammates Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward made the presentation. After Fowler put the ring on, the other Cubs players, manager Joe Maddon and front-office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came over to exchange hugs and handshakes.

The Cubs are hoping that’s looking down at their opposition in the division. It has been a while since they could do that, but they’re slowly creeping closer to getting there. Rizzo made sure of that Wednesday, when he hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season. It was the 14th multi-homer game of his career, and it came on a night when the wind was blowing hard from left to right.

“It’s good to come home,” Rizzo said after the Cubs’ 0-6 trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. “The atmosphere with the fans was unbelievable today, especially after a six-game skid. To get this win was nice to let everyone loosen up a little bit. We beat a good team.”