Molina, Cardinals edge Cubs

Yadier Molina reacts after his two-run single in the St. Louis Cardinals' 2-1 Major League Baseball victory over the Chicago Cubs (AFP Photo/NUCCIO DINUZZO)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Yadier Molina produced three of the Cardinals' four hits and drove in both runs in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday that saw the Cardinals edge closer to the National League Central division title.

The Cardinals posted their second win in as many days over the Cubs, who are now five games behind the Cardinals in third place in the NL Central.

The teams play each other five more times in the closing week of the regular season, but it was looking more and more as if it would be the Milwaukee Brewers challenging the Cardinals for the division.

The Brewers were 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals heading into their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.

St. Louis managed just two hits off Cubs starter Alec Mills, who was pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

But in a four-hour marathon saw the clubs combine to use 15 pitchers Cubs reliever David Phelps walked the only two batters he faced to open the sixth inning and his replacement Steve Cishek walked a third.

The bases were loaded when Molina smacked a single up the middle to drive in the Cardinals' only two runs of the game.

Both teams loaded the bases in later innings, but neither could break through.

The Cubs threatened in the bottom of the seventh with two singles off St. Louis relief pitcher John Brebbia. Castellanos then crew a walk and Cubs slugger Kris Bryant came to the mound.

Bryant lined the ball to deep left field, but Marcell Ozuna made a leaping catch at the warning track to end the inning.

The narrow victory followed the Cardinals' 5-4 win in 10 innings over the Cubs on Thursday night.