CHICAGO – Yadier Molina trotted around the bases while his teammates celebrated in the dugout. Paul DeJong lost his voice because he was screaming so much.
It was one wild party for the St. Louis Cardinals – again.
Molina and DeJong homered on Craig Kimbrel's first two pitches in the ninth inning, and the Cardinals handed the reeling Chicago Cubs their fifth straight loss with a 9-8 victory Saturday.
“We don't give up,” Molina said. “Today was a perfect example, we're never going to give up.”
Marcell Ozuna also connected as the NL Central-leading Cardinals (88-67) won for the fifth time in six games. Dexter Fowler had two hits and two RBIs, and Paul Goldschmidt also drove in two runs.
Chicago (82-73) used pinch-hit homers by Ian Happ and Tony Kemp and a solo drive by rookie Nico Hoerner to carry an 8-7 lead into the ninth. It looked as if it was on its way to stopping a costly slide that pushed it out of playoff position – the Cubs began the day two games back of Milwaukee for the second NL wild card.
But Kimbrel (0-4) was hit hard again in his first appearance since he gave up Matt Carpenter's 10th-inning homer in the Cubs' 5-4 loss Thursday night.
“It's really a difficult loss based on all the good things we did today,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Molina jumped on Kimbrel's elevated fastball for his ninth homer , touching off a rollicking celebration on the Cardinals' side of the field. Kimbrel looked stunned as the ball soared into the bleachers in left-center.
DeJong then belted an even deeper drive for his 28th homer, completing the Cardinals' seventh set of back-to-back shots this year.
“Yadi did a great job by hitting a tough pitch and I was ready for another fastball and I got it,” he said.
Signed in early June, Kimbrel has allowed a career-high nine homers in only 202/3 innings this year, and blown three of 16 save chances.
He permitted seven home runs last season in 621/3 innings with Boston.
“First and second pitch of the inning, felt like I made two competitive pitches that I wanted to, and they went out,” he said. “It's just frustrating. I mean that's the only thing I can say.”
John Gant (11-1) got the last out of the eighth for the win, and Carlos Martínez finished for his 23rd save. It's the first three-game win streak for St. Louis at Wrigley Field since June 20-22, 2016.
Kris Bryant led off the Chicago ninth with a walk before Martínez retired three in a row while pitching for the fourth consecutive day. Maddon sent Javier Báez up to hit for Kimbrel with two out, but the All-Star slugger struck out swinging on three pitches.