ST. LOUIS — Four pitchers combined for five innings of scoreless, two-hit relief after Miles Mikolas appeared to get injured 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 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).
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.
He 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 Javier Báez 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 ptitcher grabbed his right elbow then looked toward the Cardinals dugout. An athletic trainer, pitching coach Mike Maddux and then manager Mike Shildt came out. Mikolas. who had thrown 59 pitches. left with what the team called right forearm tightness.
Daniel Ponce deLeon retired five batters around a walk, Genesis 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, one behind the major league-leading total of San Diego’s Mark Melancon.
Nick Hoerner had a two-out squib up the third-base line and Nick Martini flied out on a 2-0 fastball.
Adbert 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.
Edmundo Sosa hit a two-out triple down the right field line in the fifth and scored on Lane Thomas’ single.
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.
Cubs INF Eric Sogard turned 35 Saturday. He pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out.
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,. Manager Mike Shildt said that 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).
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