ST. LOUIS (AP) — Lars Nootbaar hit a tying sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and a game-ending RBI single in the ninth, sending the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in the opener of a split doubleheader.
St. Louis trailed 3-0 before rallying in the seventh against Marcus Stroman. Nolan Gorman and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back homers before Nolan Arenado doubled and scored on Nootbaar’s flyball to center.
“When it all clicks, we’re able to string together some quality at-bats,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “Those guys there definitely made an adjustment on Stroman and made some really hard contact. Classic third time through the lineup.”
Arenado and Paul DeJong walked with one out in the ninth against rookie Erich Uelmen (0-1). Nootbaar then drove in Arenado with a liner to right on a 2-2 pitch.
“He’s taking some really professional at-bats,” Marmol said about Nootbaar. “He’s making a lot of hard contact. He’s confident in what he’s doing right now.”
Nootbaar said he thought Arenado would be able to score the winning run. Arenado’s slide beat the tag by catcher Willson Contreras.
“He’s not the fleetest afoot. I’d never seen him move that fast before,” Nootbaar said with a laugh. “But he’s a smart baserunner. I had a pretty good idea he would score there. I made him run a little harder than he needed to. I owe him.”
Ryan Helsley (6-1) got three outs for the win, helping the Cardinals pull within a half-game of Milwaukee for the NL Central lead.
Contreras homered for Chicago, which dropped its fourth straight game. Stroman was charged with three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
“I thought he had command of both sides of the plate. He was sharp,” manager David Ross said. “It was a really nice performance today I…