CHICAGO -- With Allen Craig struggling and Yadier Molina on the disabled list, most of the focus has been on where the St. Louis Cardinals might be this season if two of the biggest bats from a year ago were producing like in the past.
Here's another question:
Where would they be without Matt Adams stepping up to fill some of that void?
Adams stroked a pair of two-run extra base-hits, a double and a gift triple, and St. Louis broke open a tie game with a four-run seventh inning en route to a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
Third place in the National League Central with a 55-48 record is not where the Cardinals envisioned themselves at the start of the season, but things undoubtedly would be worse without the first baseman hitting .320 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs in 88 games.
"You've gotta have that guy that's having that year for you," manager Mike Matheny said. "Matt Adams is having a big season and we've needed it.
"You look at where we were able to start getting some traction in our division and it was when Matt started to go. Not to put pressure on him, but he was the guy at the time and he's continued to step up big for us."
Adams went 2-for-5 with four RBIs and a run scored and the second-year player's confidence continues to grow.
"I think anybody having this type of season, their confidence is gonna grow big-time," he said. "I'm just trying to build off of what I did last year and just try to keep it going the rest of the year."
Randy Choate (2-2) got one out to earn the win, while James Russell (0-2) took the loss after being charged with all four runs in the seventh.
Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth for his 31st save.
Both starters pitched well, but neither factored in the decision. The Cardinals' Shelby Miller, making his first start since July 10, allowed two runs on three hits in 5 two-thirds innings. The Cubs' Jake Arrieta allowed two runs on five hits in six innings.
Adams gave the Cardinals a quick 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the first inning. Arrieta settled down and retired nine of the next 10 batters, with the only runner reaching on an error by second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.
Miller was even sharper in the early going, retiring the first nine batters he faced before Bonifacio led off the fourth inning with a bunt single down the third-base line for the Cubs' first hit and first runner.
"I felt like my command was good, especially with the fastball," Miller said. "When you get a groove and you're throwing pretty well with a rhythm, you just keep going and pitch more than throw. I feel like that's what I did today."
Bonifacio stole second, went to third on a ground out to short by center fielder Arismendy Alcantara and scored on another grounder to short by first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs were able to cut the lead in half despite not getting the ball out of the infield the entire inning.
The Cubs tied the game in the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz, who was batting for Arrieta, homered on a 1-0 pitch down the right-field line just inside the foul pole. It was the fourth pinch-hit homer of Schierholtz's career.
The Cardinals regained the lead in the top of the seventh as they manufactured a run of their own. Center fielder Jon Jay led off with a single against Russell, was sacrificed to second, stole third and scored on a RBI-grounder to first base by Carpenter.
The Cubs brought the infield in and Rizzo threw home to try to cut down Jay, but the throw was low and catcher Welington Castillo couldn't catch it and apply the tag in time as St. Louis took a 3-2 lead.
Following a strikeout by second baseman Kolten Wong and a walk to left fielder Matt Holliday, Adams broke the game open with another two-run blast to right-center for a 5-2 advantage.
"Get that play at home and get a 3-2 pitch (against Holliday) that I thought was there and it's a different story," Russell said. "Plays just didn't really go my way."
On his big hit, Adams was credited with a triple and was asked if he's now a triples hitter.
"No," he said. "I think if the center-fielder comes up with that cleanly, I'm stopping at second."
NOTES: The Cardinals signed veteran C A.J. Pierzynski before the game and immediately inserted him into the lineup batting sixth. He went 3-for-4. Pierzynski, 37, was released by the Boston Red Sox on July 16 after batting .254 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 72 games. "I definitely wanted to play this year, because I didn't want to end with the bad taste I had in my mouth in Boston," he said. ... To make room for Pierzynski on the roster, St. Louis designated C George Kottaras for assignment. ... The Cubs recalled RHP Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa and optioned RHP Neil Ramirez to Iowa. The move, though, is anything but a demotion for Ramirez, who has a 1-1 record with three saves and an 0.96 ERA in 33 appearances with the Cubs this season. "We're just going to give him a blow; that's all this is," manager Rick Renteria said. Ramirez will remain in Chicago to rest for a few days before making his way to Iowa to prepare for his return. ... RHP Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.02) faces RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 2.77) in the series finale on Sunday.