The Cubs finally bunched hits together and scored three times in the ninth against Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman before falling short 6-5 on Friday at Wrigley Field.
Chapman allowed three straight hits to open the ninth inning, then got two outs before giving up a bases-loaded walk to Nate Schierholtz and a two-run single to Welington Castillo as the Cubs pulled within one.
After pinch-hitter Cody Ransom drew a walk to load the bases again, J.J. Hoover replaced Chapman and got his first save by striking out Darwin Barney.
Jay Bruce had two RBIs and scored a run, Shin-Soo Choo drove in a run and scored twice, and the Reds scored five times with two outs.
Mike Leake (2-1) gave up two runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart also had run-scoring hits to hand Carlos Villanueva (1-2) the loss.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out before former Cubs reliever Sean Marshall struck out Alfonso Soriano on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt and got Schierholtz to ground out to second.
Cardinals 6, Brewers 1: The Cardinals’ Nos. 3-7 hitters went 13-for-26, and Shelby Miller worked six solid innings in Milwaukee.
Matt Holliday gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead with a no-doubt two-run shot off Kyle Lohse (1-3) in the third inning. Holliday went 3-for-4 and scored three times.
Miller (4-2) scattered six hits and struck out five.