It wasn't pretty and it didn't change anything in the standings. Yet, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 12-6 on Friday. This latest victory at the very least gave the Cardinals something to cheer about after a recent losing streak.
All of the offense was against one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, Carlos Zambrano. After coming fresh off of a no-hitter against the red hot Houston Astros, I was certain that the Redbirds had no chance of winning.
They proved me wrong in a big way.
Just weeks after requesting a trade, Adam Kennedy hit his second career grand slam in the first inning against Big Z. He finished his huge day going 4-for-5 with five RBI and three runs scored.
Kennedy was the batter that put the nail in the coffin for Zambrano but several other Redbirds joined in on the offense.
Felipe Lopez went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Ryan Ludwick jacking a two-run home run in the fifth inning for his 34th of the season. Ludwick has continually kept pace with fellow slugger Albert Pujols as both of them now have 100+ RBI seasons.
It seems as though Zambrano has had recent trouble with the Redbirds. In his August 9th appearance against St. Louis, he managed to give up nine runs on 10 hits while lasting only four innings. In this latest outing, Zambrano barely lasted an inning as he gave up eight earned runs on six hits.
Manager Tony La Russa knew just how big of a day Kennedy had.
"Huge," said La Russa. "And you talk about adding on, he kept doing it for us. He had a huge day."
Despite the big offensive day, the pitching was another story completely.
Starter Adam Wainwright lasted only five innings after coming off one of his worst starts of his career against Pittsburgh on Sept 13. In Friday's game, he needed 107 pitches to pitch those five innings; not a great sign.
However, this time he would earn the win as he only gave up two earned on four hits. It wasn't pretty, but it was enough.
"It wasn't great," Wainwright said. "I was battling. Not as hard as last time, but I didn't have good stuff today. I had very average stuff. I was able to make good pitches in certain situations and get out of some jams, but my team was really the story."
The bullpen managed to give the Cubs some life as Kelvin Jimenez gave up four earned on five hits. Not surprising at all. However, the offense could bail out Wainwright's short outing and yet another bullpen implosion.
Despite the coincidence that Kennedy's huge offensive performance came on the day his trade was leaked to the press, he knew that it wasn't his motivation.
"One of the guys mentioned something about a demand," Kennedy said. "It definitely wasn't that. It was getting together and talking about the plans for next season and the offseason. That's what's on my mind. I just want to play."
Typical of a veteran manager, Tony La Russa knew that in this era of free agency players come and go.
"If he was to go somewhere, I would always pull for him," La Russa said. "He's handled the situation with terrific professionalism. I like him personally. I just felt like the best way to go was the way I went. It's been tough for him to take, but he's handled it."
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