Cardinals solve Wrigley again, crush Hammel, Cubs 10-4

CHICAGO (AP) Yadier Molina drove in four runs, Stephen Piscotty homered and the St. Louis Cardinals boosted their playoff hopes by getting to Jason Hammel early in a 10-4 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

Randal Grichuk added three RBIs and Jhonny Peralta had three hits and scored three runs for the Cardinals, who snapped a two-game skid and moved into a tie with San Francisco for the final NL wild-card spot pending the Giants' game at San Diego.

Hammel (15-10) allowed six runs and six hits while getting just seven outs, hurting his bid for a postseason rotation spot. A day after clinching the NL's best record, the Cubs were denied their 99th win and a record 57th at Wrigley Field.

Dexter Fowler finished a home run shy of the cycle, Ben Zobrist had a two-run triple and Willson Contreras homered in the ninth for the Cubs, who are 3-6 at home against St. Louis and 53-17 against other teams.

Alex Reyes (4-1) needed 115 pitches to get through five innings but settled down after a tough start to allow three runs and six hits with six strikeouts.

Hours after Friday's win, the Cubs clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs when Washington lost to Pittsburgh. Manager Joe Maddon was watching on TV and declared it ''another checkmark'' for their season.

They remained two wins shy of another goal - 100 wins - thanks to Hammel's struggles.

The right-hander's solid previous outing renewed talk he could supplant John Lackey as the No. 4 playoff starter. But Hammel saw his ERA rise from 3.56 to 3.83 after Maddon's early hook.

Molina had a two-run double and Grichuk a two-run single in the first. An inning later, Piscotty crushed Hammel's slider 450 feet onto Waveland Avenue for a solo homer. Hammel was lifted after giving up two more hits in the third.

Molina added a two-run single for his third hit a three-run seventh against Hector Rondon. Piscotty's third hit in the eighth off Rob Zastryzny added another run.

Reyes had his 11 1/3-inning scoreless streak snapped in Chicago's two-run first, and Fowler's RBI double an inning later made it 5-3. But Reyes allowed just two hits over his final three innings.

Maddon cleared his bench in the late innings as Chicago's four-game winning streak ended.


Cardinals: SS Aledmys Diaz (arm fatigue) started after a day off. . LF Matt Holliday (broken right thumb) could have a second batting practice session Sunday. . Kolten Wong (shoulder) didn't start after an outfield spill Friday.

Cubs: LF Jorge Soler (right side soreness) started for the first time since Sept. 16. . RHP Pedro Strop (knee, groin) reported no pain a day after his first appearance since Aug. 10. ''I thought I was going to be really sore,'' Strop said.


Maddon pushed his bullpen game to Thursday in Pittsburgh. Kyle Hendricks, Lackey and Jake Arrieta will start the first three games against the Pirates.


LHP Jon Lester (18-4, 2.36 ERA) faces Cardinals RHP Carlos Martinez (15-8, 3.16) in Chicago's regular-season home finale Sunday night. Lester is 8-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his last 10 starts.