CHICAGO - Matt Carpenter homered in the 10th inning against Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star closer's return, and the St. Louis Cardinals regrouped after blowing a late lead to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 Thursday night.
Emerging ace Jack Flaherty shut down Chicago over eight innings, and despite a tying three-run rally in the ninth, the Cubs dropped a game behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and four games behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central.
Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo provided a jolt in his unexpected return from a sprained right ankle, homering in the third inning to tie the game at 1. But Flaherty was spectacular otherwise, pitching three-hit ball while allowing just the one run and striking out eight.
Carpenter homered to deep center field off Kimbrel (0-3), who was activated from the injured list prior to the game after dealing with right elbow inflammation. Carpenter, diminished to a smaller role during a frustrating season, hadn't homered since Aug. 25.
Giovanny Gallegos pitched a perfect 10th for his first save in two chances. Andrew Miller (5-5) recorded the final two outs in the ninth for the victory.