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Cubs take advantage of Randal Grichuk's sore arm, Cardinals win anyway

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk played in the outfield on Wednesday for the first time in over three weeks, and the Chicago Cubs were able to immediately take advantage of his sore arm.

Anthony Rizzo doubled in the first inning on Wednesday to Grichuk in center field, but after missing 19 games with a right elbow strain, the outfielder was unable to throw the ball back into the infield. Grichuk tossed the ball underhanded to right fielder Jason Heyward to throw back into the infield, and the extra time allowing Chris Coghlan to score easily from first base.

Grichuk was activated from the disabled list on Monday but didn't play the field in either of the first two games of the series. He pinch ran on Monday, then homered as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday, continuing his fine season. Grichuk, 24, is a darkhorse Rookie of the Year candidate, hitting .281/.330/.563 with 16 home runs. But for now, he can't make any sort of long throws.

Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains:

Grichuk said on Monday that what limited throwing he had done had not been pain-free, and that throws of just 60 feet caused discomfort. But he had done additional work since then and the Cardinals were confident that he could field the position and make the throws he had to make. B placing him in center field, there would always be someone nearby. Manager Mike Matheny met with Grichuk to discuss game situations and how he should handle them. The lesson in a nutshell: This is no time for heroics. Let someone else make the throws.

Matheny's gamble, while costing St. Louis an extra base and a run in the first inning, ultimately didn't hurt the Cardinals, who came back to beat the Cubs, 4-3. St. Louis improved to a whopping 88-51 on the season, the best record in baseball, needing only to finish 12-11 to win 100 games.