How it happened: Cubs closer Kevin Gregg struggled in a four-run Cardinals ninth. Allen Craig's RBI single set the stage for Yadier Molina's three-run home run. Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was a one-man wrecking crew, keeping the Cubs in the game until the fateful ninth. His base hit in the second inning drove in the team’s first run and his three-run home run in the sixth gave the Cubs a temporary one-run lead. Barney also scored the tying run on Cody Ransom’s two-run double in the eighth. All-Star Travis Wood, who has 17 quality starts in 19 outings (the best percentage in baseball this season), did not have a quality start on Sunday, leaving with two out in the sixth. Cardinals All-Star Adam Wainwright exited after six innings. Wood allowed single runs in first, third and fourth innings. The Cardinals scored their second run on a suicide squeeze bunt executed perfectly by shortstop Pete Kozma. St Louis scored another fluky run on an infield single from David Freese .His slow two-hopper hugged the third-base line and escaped third baseman Luis Valbuena as Craig scored. A poor decision on a cutoff play by Anthony Rizzo cost the Cubs a shot at keeping the game a run closer in the eighth inning.
What it means: Chicago ends the first half 42-51, 15 games behind first-place St Louis. Wood (6-6), who received a no decision is the Cubs’ lone representative at the All-Star Game on Tuesday evening at Citi Field in New York. The Cubs are four games better in the standings than they were last season after 93 games. The improved bullpen gave up seven runs on Sunday night.
Outside the box: Scott Baker made his first professional start in over a year for Single-A Kane County on Sunday. It was Baker’s first outing since having Tommy John surgery in April of 2012. … The Cubs put outfielder Cole Gillespie on the 40- and 25-man rosters. Gillespie was acquired from the Giants on waivers. Gillespie hit a Texas league single as a pinch hitter in the eighth. … The Cubs designated pitcher Henry Rodriguez for assignment. … James Russell made his 47th appearance. The Cubs’ only bullpen left-hander is on pace to pitch in 85 games in 2013. ... Brian Bogusevic reinjured his quad in the late innings.