July 6, 2008

Cubs strengthen hold on NLC with rout of Cards

The Chicago Cubs won the rubber match of the three-game series, pounding the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1. The combination of the Cubs win, Cards loss, and Brewers win strengthened the Cubs hold on first place in the NL Central, at the same time putting the Brewers in second place. The Cards slipped into third place on percentage points, 3.5 games out like the Brewers.

Sean Marshall gave the Cubs an excellent start, gaining his first win (1-2) with six solid innings pitched. Marshall scattered six hits, walking only one and striking out four. He allowed only one run, earned.

The Cubs offense, more commonly known for their longball threat, put together several good rallies, scoring runs in a variety of ways in six different innings. The most runs they scored in any one of those frames was two, in the eighth.

Ryan Ludwick supplied the only Cardinals' run with a home run to left field.

Todd Wellemeyer took the loss (7-4), and gave up only three runs. He only lasted five innings, however, pitching through nine Cubs' hits.

With the Cardinals' bats failing to put any significant rallies together, the spent starter had no chance to remain in this game. Manager Tony La Russa used three relievers to cover the four innings; Chris Perez, Russ Springer, and Brad Thompson. The Cubs scored on all three of them in a day in which they tallied 16 total hits.

More and more noticeable is the Cubs ability to get men on in a lot of innings while the Cardinals cannot. In seven of nine innings, for instance, the Cubs placed a base runner within the the first two batters of each inning. The Cardinals accomplished this only three times, and their lone run came in one of those frames.

The Cardinals now have Monday off and then start a road trip in Philadelphia, taking on the NL East's first place Phillies in a three-game set before packing off to Pittsburgh for another three before the All-Star break.

photo by Barbara Moore