Yadier Molina had three hits, including a two-run single, and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals held on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday for their third straight win.
The National League Central leaders dealt the Cubs their fourth straight loss. Chicago trails St. Louis by five games in the division and has fallen behind the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card race.
Ryan Helsley (2-0) picked up the win in relief as the St. Louis bullpen turned in five scoreless innings. Carlos Martinez got the final two outs for his 22nd save.
St. Louis won despite being outhit 9-4. Both teams squandered offensive opportunities as the Cardinals went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and the Cubs were 1-for-9.
Chicago's Kyle Schwarber led off the eighth inning with a bunt single against Andrew Miller, but Willson Contreras grounded into a double play.
Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Nicholas Castellanos had two hits each for the Cubs.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed a run on five hits over four innings. He was helped out of two jams when Chicago grounded into double plays, including with one out and the bases loaded in the third inning. Wacha also benefitted from a line-drive double play by Castellanos in the first after Anthony Rizzo led off with a walk.
Starter Alec Mills tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings for the Cubs, allowing two hits and striking out six.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second when Schwarber doubled, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on second baseman Tommy Edman's one-out error off a David Bote grounder.
The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna drew walks against reliever David Phelps (2-1), and Steve Cishek came on to face Matt Carpenter. Carpenter walked to load the bases and Molina followed with a single to center, scoring Goldschmidt and Ozuna.
--Field Level Media