While lamenting Wednesday afternoon the sudden losses he experienced at Busch Stadium, Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum also marveled at the hitter responsible for several of them and how trickier it’s become to pitch to Yadier Molina.
Sveum cataloged the types of pitches the Cardinals’ catcher has belted for base hits — down and away, inside, breaking balls — and called him “extremely locked in.”

It didn’t take long before Sveum had another example.

Adding to the list of late losses for the Cubs, Molina turned on a low and inside fastball and lifted it for a two-run homer to snap a tie in the sixth inning.

Cubs starter Edwin Jackson said Molina hit the pitch “I wanted to throw.”

Molina’s fifth home run of the season proved Sveum’s point and powered the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory against the rival Cubs at Busch.

“We use the term ‘joke’ around here,” Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter said. “He’s a joke. He is that good. It’s like you just know that he’s going to do something great every night. That’s the kind of player he is — just irreplaceable. He’s a joke.”

Sveum had another term for Molina: MVP.

Molina’s bolt into the seats beyond the left-field wall rewarded Cardinals sinkerballer Jake Westbrook with his first victory since returning from the disabled list.

Westbrook allowed one unearned run through seven solid innings. He teased 14 groundouts from the Cubs, who needed two errors from the Cardinals to get their one run.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless eighth to hold onto the three-run lead, and closer Edward Mujica threw a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances.

The Cardinals catcher started Wednesday’s game with a .367 batting average, the highest in baseball. He peppered Sveum’s club with three hits Tuesday night and reached base in all four plate appearances.

Molina has sharpened his All-Star claim and inflated his average against the Cubs all season. In five games, Molina has slugged .736 against the rivals, and his one-for-four Wednesday dropped his average against the Cubs to only .526 (10 for 19). Molina has reached base in 17 of his last 19 home games against the Cubs.