Kwang Hyun-Kim earned his fifth consecutive win on his 34th birthday and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-2 Thursday night.
Nolan Arenado and Dylan Carlson homered as the Cardinals improved to a game over .500 at 49-48. It’s the Cardinals first winning record since being 36-35 after winning the first game of a doubleheader at Atlanta on June 20.
“I don’t think that the goal here is just to finish over .500.” Arenado said. “We’re looking at way more important things, and we’ve just got to continue to compete. We should finish over .500, but we want to get into the playoffs.
“This series, it was a tough series,” Arenado said. “We had one tough loss. To come back these last two days with the same energy, same fire, it’s really important. I think that’s what winning teams do.”
Kim (6-5) permitted two runs on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings.
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“The past two months, I did not have a win, so that was really a tough time,” Kim said via interpreter Craig Choi. “Since today was my fifth consecutive win, I want this to extend for two months to the end of the season.”
Kim’s last loss came in the second game of the doubleheader on June 20.
“He’s been really good with every outing,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s given us more than a chance to win, which we’ve done. Good tonight, ahead of hitters, got leadoff hitters out.”
Ryan Helsley and T.J. McFarland each pitched a scoreless inning. Alex Reyes pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 23rd save after suffering his first career blown save on Tuesday night.
Carlson lined a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall for his ninth home run of the season. It was his first career leadoff home run and first for the Cardinals this season.
Arenado plated Carlson in the third inning with his team-leading 19th homer of the season, giving St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
Adbert Alzolay (4-10) permitted three runs on four hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts in six innings. He is winless in his last seven starts.
“I thought Adbert threw the ball pretty well,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He settled in and it was nice for him to get up over 100 pitches and give us six complete. It was a really nice outing by him.”
Jake Marisnick hit a two-run double to right-center field in the fourth inning to cut the Cardinals lead to 3-2. He is the first hitter to get an extra base hit off Kim since Pittsburgh’s Kevin Newman doubled on June 25.
Marisnick’s hit snapped Kim’s then MLB-best 24 2/3-inning scoreless streak. It was the third-longest by a Korean-born pitcher, trailing only Chan Ho Park’s 33 innings and Hyun Jin Ryu’s 32-inning streak. Kim had not allowed an earned run in July before this outing.
“I did notice that about the streak,” Kim said. “I saw the article and I kind of wished someone didn’t write the article because after the article was released normally I do give up runs.
Play was stopped for about four minutes in the bottom of the seventh after Dillon Maples hit Edmundo Sosa in the helmet with a 95 mph fastball. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras immediately summoned the Cardinals training staff. After a few anxious minutes of tests and observation, Sosa stayed in the game.
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