Mikolas and Pagés help the Cardinals edge the Cubs 2-1

Miles Mikolas pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Jameson Taillon and the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Sunday.

Showing off an improved sinker, Mikolas allowed one run, struck out five and walked none. The right-hander, who tossed seven scoreless innings on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his last seven starts.

“That's a really nice job by our pitchers,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Miles was good. Landing everything. Used all his pitches. He just continues to just be in control of every at-bat.”

Pedro Pagés hit a two-run homer for St. Louis, which improved to 4-1 against Chicago this season by taking two of three this weekend.

The 25-year-old Pagés, who moved from Venezuela to the U.S. with his family when he was just a kid, had his father on hand for the series at Wrigley Field. Edgar Pagés watched his son hit his first major league homer in Friday's 3-0 win and then saw him go deep again on Father's Day.

“We've been through a lot together,” Pedro Pagés said, “and just to do it in front of him. We had a minute on the field and we both just started crying. I started it first this time. It was my fault. But it just means a lot.”

Taillon pitched six effective innings, but Chicago's lineup struggled again. It managed just six runs and 17 hits in the series.

The Cubs dropped to 10-21 in their last 31 games.

“It's been tough,” Taillon said. “I think we have a really good team. We have a lot of talent and for whatever reason right now it's just not all clicking at the same time.”

Mikolas departed after Ian Happ's one-out double in the seventh. Happ scored on Michael Busch's two-out RBI single off Ryan Fernandez, but that was it for the Cubs.

Mikolas (5-6) threw 91 pitches, 60 for strikes. He said he's being careful with his routine as the weather heats up in an effort to preserve his energy for the long season.

“Definitely just not trying to do too much, not trying to overthink anything,” he said. “Just keep it simple.”

Andrew Kittredge struck out Seiya Suzuki with a runner on third for the final out of the eighth. Ryan Helsley handled the ninth for his major league-best 24th save.

Pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom flied out to the warning track in left with two runners on for the final out.

“It was a light day offensively. We didn't do enough to score runs,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Helsley has been perfect since he blew his first opportunity of the season on March 30 at the Dodgers. He moved into a tie with Alex Reyes for the franchise record with 24 consecutive saves.

“We're not anywhere close to where we're at right now without him doing what he's doing,” Marmol said.

Taillon (3-3) escaped a jam in the first when he struck out Nolan Arenado with two runners on. But Brandon Crawford hit a one-out double in the second and Pagés drove an 0-2 sweeper deep to left-center.

Mikolas retired his first nine batters before Mike Tauchman hit a leadoff single in the fourth. Two-out singles by Suzuki and Happ loaded the bases for Nico Hoerner, who bounced into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

It was a close call on the force play at second and the Cubs challenged, but the call was upheld after a video review.

With Jordan Wicks (right oblique) and Ben Brown (neck strain) sidelined by injuries, Kyle Hendricks will return to the rotation on Wednesday against San Francisco. Yency Almonte (shoulder strain) will throw live batting practice on Tuesday, Counsell said, and then go on a rehab assignment. Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) is looking as if he will be back around the All-Star break, according to Counsell.

Cubs righty Javier Assad (4-2, 2.81 ERA) starts on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series against San Francisco. Jordan Hicks (4-3, 3.01 ERA) goes for the visiting Giants.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, June 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
St. Louis Cardinals' Nolan Gorman, left, steals second base past Chicago Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, June 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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