The Ricky Renteria Positivity Train keeps on chugging along at Clark and Addison.
Even though the Cubs manager has watched his team cough and sputter, Renteria manages to drive down the sunny side of the tracks every day and talk about how his team "grinds" and never gives up.
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There was something to it Friday.
The Cubs fell behind 3-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning but came back and wound up holding off their Gateway Arch rivals 7-6 before a season-high Wrigley Field crowd of 41,534.
"It was a good win for us today," said center fielder Ryan Sweeney, who hit a 3-run homer in the second inning to tie the game before adding a run-scoring single in the third. "There were a lot of people here today, and it was a fun atmosphere and a game to play."
It's been a tough go for the Cubs lately. Even with Friday's victory, they're 4-13 since the July 4 trade of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.
"We had a rough couple weeks, and we just got to keep a positive attitude and just play with the guys that we have here," Sweeney said. "We can't look at what's going on (outside) the lines, I guess."
The Cubs improved to 42-59 with the victory, which came one day after a 13-3 loss to the Padres. The bullpen has been overused and beaten up, but Renteria remained upbeat even after Thursday's debacle.
"Last night, we fell behind by quite a few runs," he said. "In the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, we were grinding. We were still putting together good at-bats. We were getting guys on base. Obviously, the deficit was kind of big, but they kept playing the game. They need to know that we appreciate them continuing to play the game. We appreciate our pitchers trying to go out there.
"That's not a time, I don't think, to beat people up. I think it's a time when you've got to kind of let them know, 'Hey, you guys are grinding. Things haven't gone well, but they will.' "
Renteria was hoping for a long outing from Friday's starting pitcher, Travis Wood. But that turned into a worst-case scenario. Wood threw 32 pitches in the first inning and 34 in the second. He wound up lasting 5 and throwing 113 pitches.
"The first two innings, I threw a lot of pitches," Wood said. "The first inning ended up getting away from us a little bit (with 2 errors). I had a long second, didn't give up any runs but threw a lot of pitches. I really wanted to go deep in the game. I wasn't really throwing pitches all over the place. They fouled off a lot of pitches today and made me work."
The Cubs used four relievers, with Justin Grimm (3-2) getting the victory in his team-leading 47th appearance, hard-throwing Neil Ramirez striking out Matt Carpenter with heat to end the eighth and Hector Rondon earning his 12th save and his first since July 1.
"We had faith that (Wood) was going to battle, and he did," said Ramirez, who has an 0.96 ERA. "He did an awesome job having thrown a lot of pitches those first couple innings. He came back and did his job, and that's always awesome to see as a bullpen, to see your starter out there battling. That gives us a little fire, too."