ST. LOUIS (AP) — A change in lineup spots has done Marcell Ozuna good.
Ozuna hit a grand slam during a six-run first inning, Miles Mikolas pitched six strong innings and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 47,514 at Busch Stadium.
“It was an at-bat where I wanted to put the ball in play,” Ozuna said. “That’s a tough at-bat where you can strike out right there but I was able to put the ball in play and drove everyone in. It was one of my better (at-bats). I’m getting my feeling back. Sometimes I do too much.”
The Cardinals improved to 9-6 this season against the NL Central-leading Cubs. Chicago has lost four of six overall.
Ozuna hit his second grand slam this season and the fifth of his career. Ozuna had three hits and is 5 for 8 since dropping from cleanup to the fifth spot in the Cardinals lineup.
“He’s really working with our hitting guys to try and get more consistent with what he’s doing and how he’s doing it,” Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s a big and strong guy so he got a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and he drove that ball. It was a fun swing.”
Jose Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk from Jose Quintana (9-7) and Ozuna followed with his 11th home run. Yairo Munoz added an RBI double.
The last time the Cardinals scored six runs in the opening inning was eight years to the day, on July 28, 2010, against the Mets.
“I get to relax a little bit and not have to be too fine,” Mikolas said of the early outburst. “They can put the ball in play so it helps make the rest of the game real easy.”
Quintana needed 33 pitches to record his first out and 51 pitches to get through the first. The six runs were the most Quintana has allowed in the first inning this season — he had given up just four earned runs in the first inning through 19 starts.
“Just battled the whole time, just could not get into any strike-throwing rhythm whatsoever,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I just have no answers. He looked fine, he was strong, he felt good, but he was just not completing it.”
Mikolas (11-3) allowed six hits, including a two-run homer by Javier Baez, who connected for the second time in the series. Three St. Louis relievers each pitched a scoreless inning.
“I felt pretty good,” Mikolas said. “Had some pretty good stuff, got some ground balls, just working down in the zone and mixing up my pitches.”
Jesse Chavez pitched three innings as Cubs relievers shut out the Cardinals for the final six innings.
“The offense has not really been churning like it had been,” Maddon said. “We’ve got to get good at-bats, line drives the opposite field. We hit some homers again, but to accept their walks, move the baseball, we haven’t really done that with any regularity.”
Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson made his first major league appearance in the seventh. Hudson, a first-round pick in 2016 out of Mississippi State, struck out Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ while retiring all three batters he faced.
FACE IN THE CROWD
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson threw out the first pitch, a strike, to Shildt.
Cubs: SS Addison Russell (bruised knuckle left middle finger) missed his second straight game, but is expected to play Sunday. ... RHP Cory Mazzoni was recalled from Triple-A Iowa and RHP Alec Mills was optioned.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) started a light throwing program.
The Cubs will start RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.99 ERA) in the series finale against the Cardinals and RHP John Gant (3-3, 3.17 ERA) on Sunday night. Hendricks in 3-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 career starts against St. Louis. Gant threw five shutout innings against the Cubs on July 21 and is making his third career start.