CHICAGO — The outcome was certainly a relief for the Chicago Cubs and not necessarily because they won on Friday.
The Cubs did a lot of things right in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that snapped a six-game losing streak.
“Up and down I thought we battled extremely well,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We haven’t been playing badly, we just have not been hitting. And you can’t say we killed it today offensively, (but) we pitched well enough and caught the ball on defense.”
Jason Heyward’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly drove in Anthony Rizzo to snap a 2-2 tie in the weekend series opener at Wrigley Field.
Reliever Pedro Strop (1-2) got the win after a one-third inning appearance in relief for the Cubs (26-27).
Reliever Trevor Rosenthal (1-2) took the loss for the Cardinals (26-26) after his one-inning effort.
Chicago reliever Wade Davis worked a one-two-three ninth inning for his 11th save.
Rizzo doubled off Rosenthal to lead off the eighth, advanced to third on Ben Zobrist’s fielder’s choice grounder and scored the go-ahead run on Heyward’s sacrifice to center.
Ex-Cub Dexter Fowler, who received his 2016 World Series ring in a pregame ceremony, gave the Cardinals an instant 1-0 lead when he led off and homered to right on a 3-2 pitch.
It was the fifth first-inning homer that Cubs starter John Lackey has allowed this season.
“I know John and John knows me,” Fowler said. “He’s going to come after me from the beginning so it was a matter of getting a good pitch to hit.”
St. Louis made it 2-0 in the second as Magneuris Sierra, fresh up from Double-A Springfield, singled home Aledmys Diaz from second with one out.
The Cubs cut the deficit to 2-1 on Kris Bryant’s third-inning homer with two out. Bryant’s 12th homer, which tied him for the team lead with Rizzo, came on Lance Lynn’s 3-2 pitch.
Lynn departed with one out in the sixth and Cubs runners on first and second.
Heyward greeted left-handed reliever Tyler Lyons with a drive to the right field warning track that outfielder Stephen Piscotty appeared to lose in the sun. The ball dropped and Heyward drove in Rizzo while reaching second to tie the game at 2-2.
“That was a tough sun ball with Stephen,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Lyons issued an intentional walk to Willson Contreras to load the bases and promptly departed for right-hander Matt Bowman to face Cubs pinch hitter Jon Jay, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Lynn was charged with two runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out six and threw 103 pitches.
“He was good,” Matheny said. “Just pitch count was a little high than what we’ve been watching, and deeper counts. It seemed like he was trying to fight back when we got behind and that hurt him. But overall I thought he did a nice job. He’s been great all year.”
Lackey, who received a no-decision, departed after seven innings. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out six and walked two while throwing 99 pitches.
“Sometimes it takes you a second to figure what’s what and try to get your feet underneath you,” Lackey said. “Things got a little better after that first inning or two.”
Right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. walked the bases loaded and was replaced by Strop with two out in the eighth.
Strop, making his 23rd appearance of the season, struck out Yadier Molina to end the threat.
NOTES: The Cardinals began a seven-day road swing with National League Central foes with three games in Chicago followed by four in Cincinnati. … St. Louis recalled OF Magneuris Sierra from Double-A Springfield on Friday for his second big league appearance. … 3B Jedd Gyorko was placed on paternity leave on Thursday as his wife gave birth this week to their third child, a girl named Brooklyn Ellee. … The Cardinals send RHP Mike Leake (6-3, 2.24 ERA) against Cubs LHP Jon Lester (3-3, 3.86 ERA) in Saturday’s middle game. … Chicago’s recent 0-6 road trip against Los Angeles and San Diego was its first winless trip since Aug. 3-8, 2012, also against the Dodgers and Padres. … Friday’s game was the start of 10 straight games at Wrigley Field where the Cubs are 15-11. … Cubs batters have been hit by a pitcher a majors-leading 31 times and 1B Anthony Rizzo tops the big leagues with 12. … Rizzo took advantage of Thursday’s off-day to ask his girlfriend Emily Vakos to marry him. She said yes, but a date has not been set.