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Cubs pound out 20 hits in 17-5 rout of rival Cardinals

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Updated: May 13, 2014 6:45PM

ST. LOUIS — What is it about the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals that brings out the best in these Cubs?

Yeah, we know, ‘‘best’’ is as relative as it gets.

But still. With a 17-5 victory Monday, the Cubs moved to 4-3 this season against their biggest — and certainly better — rival. Those 17 runs and the 20 hits that went with them blew away the Cubs’ previous season highs of 12 and 15, respectively.

‘‘We kept chipping away,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.

Chipping away? More like wailing away.

The individual stat lines were even more out of whack with reality, considering the Cubs’ recent performances. Take Emilio Bonifacio, who entered the game mired in a 3-for-28 slump. All Bonifacio did was go 4-for-5 and become the first Cubs player to score five runs in a game since — are you ready for this? — Jody Davis in 1987.

Then there’s the young, ever-intriguing Junior Lake, who isn’t hitting better than .250 against any other opponent this season but somehow is 9-for-19 with seven
extra-base hits against the Cardinals. He had three hits, including a home run, and — count ’em —
six RBI.

Why stop there? Starlin Castro had three hits and drove in three runs. Anthony Rizzo likewise knocked in three. Darwin Barney, a .153 hitter coming in, was a .188
hitter going out after a 3-for-5 night. Mike Olt, who came in at a much more robust .176, had a two-hit night that included his eighth homer, tops among National League rookies.

Oh, and Travis Wood went six serviceable innings to raise his
record to 3-4, but why are we talking about that? It was the least strange thing of the night, which isn’t saying much on a night so strange that Daniel Descalso ended the top of the ninth on the mound for the Cardinals.

Did we mention that Descalso is an infielder?

‘‘That’s what makes [the game] so much fun,’’ Olt said. ‘‘You never know what’s going to happen.’’

Look, some things probably defy explanation. There are no hidden truths to find in the Cubs, who
already are beyond buried at
13-24, manhandling their traditional bullies.

But remember the series
between these teams last week at Wrigley Field? The Cubs took two of three then — their lone series victory against any opponent since early September of last season.

They might as well take a fun night like this one and run with it. They’re a long way from winning this series — it would take a hard-to-believe three victories in four games to pull that off — but 17 runs and 20 hits have a way of making them seem a long way from being swept in Atlanta and dropping
seven of eight overall before arriving in St. Louis.

‘‘When we get to the field, we want to win,’’ Lake said. ‘‘If [we’re] positive, we can make the adjustments and get a win like today’s.’’

Is it really that simple? Of course not. Maybe the good times won’t last more than one night. With this team, that’s a real possibility.

With these two seemingly mismatched teams, though, things are upside-down in 2014. No point trying to figure out why that is. Just enjoy it while — if — it lasts.


Twitter: @SLGreenberg

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