MLB

St Louis Cardinals battle back to beat Chicago Cubs and split MLB London Series

By Sports Desk June 25, 2023

The St Louis Cardinals stormed back from a 4-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-5 and split Major League Baseball’s second London Series.

For some punters this event was about gawking at two-foot long hot dogs and potentially seeing a handful of home runs, though noises around London Stadium suggested a decent number of the 55,565 in attendance were genuinely invested in the sport.

Players from both sides emphasised the seriousness of MLB’s trip across the pond – which holds genuine consequences for the National League Central rivals’ postseason hopes – while MLB will be evaluating if and how they can continue to stage games in London after the last scheduled series here in 2026.

Chicago were dealt a blow when pitching ace Marcus Stroman was forced off with injury to start the fourth, while the division-bottom Cardinals (32-45)  benefitted from an alert offence and strong performance from the bullpen in a game that featured 11 different men on the mound.

Stroman entered the afternoon with wins in an MLB-leading seven straight starts, while Cardinals boss Oliver Marmol turned to Matthew Liberatore after Jack Flaherty was a late fitness scratch.

The Cardinals quickly fell behind after the ‘visiting’ Cubs batted first, capitalised on a pair of errors and got themselves out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

But St Louis rallied in the bottom half of the second and had the bases loaded with two outs before singles from Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan made it 4-3.

With a man on first, Marmol swapped his starter for right-hander Jake Woodford at the top of the third, while neither of the two pinch runners Cubs boss David Ross introduced for the subsequent at-bats crossed home plate and the score stood at 4-3.

But it was all tied up at the end of the inning after Jordan Walker’s line drive to centre brought home Lars Nootbaar.

The Cards took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the fourth through Paul Goldschmidt, who this weekend became the first MLB player to play in five countries and drove in Edman to make it 5-4.

Something seemed to be troubling the usually reliable Stroman. He began the game with the national league’s lowest earned-run average, but in London he ended the afternoon with six runs allowed and hit Donovan with a pitch.

A mound visit determined the Cubs ace was suffering from a blister to his right index finger and he was pulled after 3.1 innings and replaced by Michael Fulmer, St Louis extending their lead when Lars Nootbaar’s sacrifice fly allowed Donovan to score from third.

The Cardinals managed just six hits across all nine innings on Saturday. By Sunday’s seventh-inning stretch they had posted 11, including Nolan Gorman’s fifth-inning single to make it 7-4.

The bullpen quartet of Woodford, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos and Andre Pallante combined for seven scoreless innings before Jordan Hicks gave up a sacrifice fly to Nico Hoerner, allowing Nick Madrigal to cross home plate.

Though the Cubs had no given up a run since the fifth it was too late to spark a comeback, despite winning a video review challenge.

It was down to Seiya Suzuki to make magic happen with their last out. Instead, Hicks caught him swinging to seal the all-important victory in Britain.

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