ST. LOUIS (AP) — In only his second season, Paul DeJong is comfortable batting third.
DeJong had three hits and three RBIs, Yadier Molina also had three hits and drove in a run, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 on Friday night before a season-high crowd of 47,169 at Busch Stadium.
“I think last year I got some invaluable experience basically being able to play in that 3 hole every day and this year I feel that’s a good spot for me and lately I feel like that’s my identity,” said DeJong, who has hit safely in 13 of 16 games since returning from the disabled list. “Moving forward I’m just going to try to continue to try to get good at-bats.”
DeJong’s RBI triple, just the sixth for the Cardinals this season, tied the game at 1 in the third and Jose Martinez followed with an RBI single to give St. Louis the lead.
DeJong added a two-run single in the fourth. Molina scored twice.
One of the first things Mike Schildt did after taking over as Cardinals manager right before the All-Star break was move up Molina and DeJong into the second and third spots in the lineup behind Matt Carpenter.
“They seem comfortable there,” Schildt said. “Carp’s in the 1 hole and Yadi just takes good at-bats and you try to get your better hitters up as much as possible and he’s clearly one of those and Paul hit third for us last year in the second half and did a lot of damage. He takes good at-bats, he’s a professional hitter. It looks good to me.”
Cardinals starter Luke Weaver (6-9) gave up two runs in six innings. He had allowed 13 earned runs in 12 innings in three previous starts against the Cubs this season.
“I never felt like I pitched bad against them,” said Weaver, who earned his first career win against the Cubs. “Just fighting through it; just knowing that the stuff’s there. Just got to work around it and eliminate anything big happening.”
Mike Mayers and Jordan Hicks pitched perfect innings of relief before Bud Norris earned his 20th save in 23 chances as the Cardinals improved to 8-6 against the Cubs this season.
Cubs starter Mike Montgomery (3-4) gave up five runs and 12 hits in five innings. He has just one quality start in his last six outings.
“I think there’s a lot of good and then there’s some bad,” Montgomery said. “Kind of working on a few different pitches. Really just adjusting to how the hitters are. Facing some of the same teams in the division, you can’t always go about it the same way but I think physically I feel good.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t concerned about Montgomery’s result struggles.
“The worst part out of his outing for me was bad counts,” Maddon said. “Getting in bad counts and they were just putting balls in play. Overall I thought everything else he did looked normal. He just needs to get in better counts where they could be more defensive.”
Anthony Rizzo’s 427-foot homer gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the third. Javier Baez added another solo blast, reaching the 20-homer mark for the second consecutive season, in the sixth.
Molina played in his 1,820th game, tying him with Enos Slaughter for fourth on the Cardinals’ career list. Tommy Pham collected his 300th career hit in the fifth.
The Cubs acquired LHP Cole Hamels from Texas for RHP Eddie Butler, minor league RHP Rollie Lacey and a player to be named. Chicago also recalled RHP Alec Mills from Triple-A Iowa.
The Cardinals traded RHP Sam Tuivailala to Seattle for minor league RHP Seth Elledge. St. Louis also recalled Weaver from Single-A Peoria, LHP Tyler Webb, RHP Daniel Poncedeleon and purchased RHP Dakota Hudson from Triple-A Memphis, while designating LHP Tyler Lyons and RHP Greg Holland for assignment.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) threw a bullpen session.
Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil (right foot inflammation) was placed on the 10-day disabled list and RHP Carlos Martinez (right oblique strain) threw a bullpen.
The Cubs send lefty Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.87 ERA) against the Cardinals and right-hander Miles Mikolas (10-3, 2.82 ERA) in the second game of a three-game series. Quintana is 4-2 with a 2.77 ERA in seven career starts against St. Louis. Mikolas has allowed three runs or less in his last six starts.