July 4, 2008

Pujols milestone 300th not enough to beat Cubs

Albert Pujols hit his 300th home run Friday night the in first game of the Cards-Cubs series over the Independence Day weekend. The milestone round-tripper, however, wasn't enough, the Cubs nipping the Cards 2-1.

Busch Stadium was packed and rocking for the holiday event, treated to a pitcher's duel between Cubs' starter Carlos Zambrano and the Cardinals' Braden Looper.

The Cubs drew first blood, Kosuke Fukudome taking a Looper mistake pitch into the right field seats. Geovany Soto added a solo homer in the fourth, putting the Cubs up two but not out of reach by any means, except, that Zambrano was hyped up and throwing heat.

Just off the DL, Zambrano was overthrowing for several innings, using up a lot of pitches, but holding the Cardinals scoreless. His aggressiveness was unlike any the Cardinals have seen so far this season.

It wasn't until the seventh, when Cubs' manager Lou Piniella brought in Bob Howry, that the Cardinals had any chance. Yet the only Cardinal to pick on the reliever was Albert Pujols, and that wasn't until the eighth inning, when Pujols hit his 300th. After the solo shot, the Cubs went with Neal Cotts to finish the eighth, then closer Kerry Wood to polish off the Cardinals in the ninth.

The first of the Cardinals hitters to go down was Troy Glaus, who was beside himself on a pitch he thought was ball four, the ball clearly outside. The home plate umpire, Ted Barrett, must've thought Glaus was showing him up, because the next pitch was far outside and Barrett called out Glaus on strikes. After Yadier Moline reached on a single, Barrett made a similar strike call on Ryan Ludwick. Without a whole lot of faith that he wouldn't get called out on strikes outside the zone, Ludwick ended up grounding out to end the game.

Soto swung the hot Cubs' bat, going 3-for-4 with that solo home run. Derrick Lee doubled in his 2-for-4 effort. Yadier Molina and Pujols both went 2-for-4.

Carlos Zambrano got the win, improving to 9-3 while Looper suffered the loss, his record flattening a little to 9-6. Kerry Wood notched his 22nd save.