Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 4, Cubs 1

ST. LOUIS – Manager Dale Sveum and the Cubs had to watch Yadier Molina burn them again Wednesday night as the St. Louis catcher launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning to spark the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory.

How it happened: Chicago starter Edwin Jackson retired Molina in his first two at-bats, but could not get him a third time. With the game tied at 1, Matt Holliday led off the sixth with a single and after he was forced at second on a grounder by Allen Craig, Molina hit a 1-2 pitch into the left-field seats for his fifth homer of the year. It was his third career homer off Jackson in 15 at-bats, equaling the most he has hit against any pitcher.

The Cubs offense did not offer much help to Jackson, being limited to two hits by Cardinal starter Jake Westbrook through seven innings, a one-out single by Anthony Rizzo in the second and a leadoff single by Luis Valbuena in the third. They scored their only run, unearned, in the second in part because of two St. Louis errors. Westbrook recorded 15 of his 21 outs on groundballs.

What it means: The loss dropped Jackson's record to 3-9. The only pitcher in the NL with more losses is the Phillies' Cole Hamels with 10. Jackson had delivered quality starts in his last two outings, working a total of 13 innings against the Pirates and Mets and allowing only two earned runs, and was was working on a third in a row -- having allowed only one run and four singles before running into his sixth inning trouble.

Outside the box: With the Astros signing right-handed pitcher Mark Appel to a contract on Wednesday, the Cubs' top pick, third baseman Kris Bryant, (the number two overall choice) is the only one of the top five players picked in the draft who has not signed. Twenty-four of the 33 first-round draft picks have agreed to deals with their clubs. The deadline for clubs to sign their draft choices is July 12.

Up next: The Cubs and Cardinals will conclude the four-game series on Thursday night with Scott Feldman (6-5. 3.05 ERA) scheduled to start against Lance Lynn (9-1, 3.56 ERA).