After a one hour, 37 minute rain delay, Mark Mulder and Greg Maddux faced off. Mulder hadn't lost since June 22 and hadn't allowed four runs since July 3 until this outing, one in which the Cubs scored against him in all four innings he pitched. And they kept on scoring, ending their eight-game losing streak by plating runs in each of the first six innings.
The Cards' offense had 12 hits off Maddux, who pitched a complete game. However, Maddux allowed no walks and kept the Cards from stringing those hits together. Albert Pujols had two safeties, including a two-run home run. David Eckstein singled and doubled, scoring and driving in a run. Abraham Nunez had a pair of singles and the other RBI. So Taguchi had a pair of singles, a stolen base and scored one.
The Cubs Friday starter was accused of leaving his last start for reasons other than back pain. What a mess! Chicago Trib
Mahoney not at home in Friendly Confines
Former Cub Mike Mahoney has a career .067 (1-for-15) record at Wrigley Field. However, that actually looks good when compared to his current 0-for-17 stench, er… stretch at the plate.
Hitters bite Mad Dog
Coming into Thursday, Abraham Nunez is 7-for-16 (.438) in his career against Cubs starter Greg Maddux. Albert is 6-for-14 (.429) with a pair of homers and three RBI. Grudz is 16-for-46 (.348) against Maddux with three steals.
Gold Glove defense?
With his 11th error Thursday, Albert Pujols took the lead for the most errors by a first baseman in either league this season, breaking a tie with Florida's Carlos Delgado. They are the only first sackers in MLB with more than seven errors. For the record, Delgado owns no Gold Gloves.
Eckstein, Nunez, Pujols, Edmonds, Grudzielanek, Mabry (rf), Taguchi (lf), Diaz and Mulder. Mark Grudzielanek and Albert Pujols returned after a one-game breather.
On to the game…
Cards first – Lead smartly taken
For the second day in a row, Eckstein led off the game with a double into the left field corner. Nunez followed with a sacrifice bunt. What came next was not a surprise. Eckstein scored on an Albert Pujols home run, his 32nd of the season. Edmonds followed with a single but was stranded. Great to see the Cards get out on top. Cards 2-0.
Cubs first – Lead halved
Neifi Perez doubled with one out. Aramis Ramirez got a break as his pop dropped just fair inside the right field line for an RBI single. Mabry and the entire Cards defense were shaded to the left. Cards 2-1.
Cubs second – Bottom of order does damage
Michael Barrett walked leading off. Matt Murton fanned, not able to move Barrett up. That was temporarily important as Corey Patterson doubled down the first base line to put two in scoring position. But, Maddux collected the RBI, anyway, on a soft grounder to the left side. A Jose Macias blooper was just beyond Eckstein's reach in short leftfield for another RBI. Macias was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning. Cubs 3-2.
Cubs third – Slow bleeding
Derrek Lee drew a one-out walk. Ramirez shot a double into the right center gap, scoring Lee all the way from first. Barrett walked with two out, an odd occurrence since the Cubs are last in walks in the NL. A force out ended it. Cubs 4-2.
Cards fourth – Repeated end
With two out, Grudz shot a ball up the middle that almost hit Maddux. It was a clean single, and enabled the first Cardinals baserunner in ten at-bats. He was thrown out trying to steal to end the frame, just as Macias and the Cubs did in the second.
Cubs fourth – Mulder is two-out toast
Macias guided a single to short center with two out. Perez singled. Derrek Lee hit a ball out of the park to left for a three-run homer, his 34th of the season. Cubs 7-2.
Cards fifth – Creeping back
So singled and stole second base. Jason Marquis pinch hit for the sixth time this season and legged out an infield single off Maddux' leg. It was his 21st hit of the season. So took third in the process. An Eckstein single into short center was good for an RBI. Nunez singled up the middle to score Marquis. Pujols came to the plate in a situation like Lee last inning – two on and two out. All similarities ended there, as Albert fanned on a 2-2 pitch. Cubs 7-4.
Cubs fifth – Pujols error costs two
Leading off, Barrett singled off new pitcher Brad Thompson. He was forced out at second on a fielders' choice grounder by Murton. Patterson singled and a Maddux sacrifice put both runners in scoring position. Macias hit a ball to the third base side of the mound. Thompson slipped fielding it, but made a good throw to first. However, it bounced off Pujols' glove as both runs scored. It is Pujols' 11th error of the season. For what it is worth, both runs were unearned. Cubs 9-4.
Cards sixth – Cubs "D"
Mabry doubled with two out. Patterson saved a run, making a nice catch a So sinking liner to end the inning.
Cubs sixth – Two taters for Lee
Thompson tried to get ahead to the leadoff batter. Lee had another idea, as he homered again to left. Nomar singled and Barrett doubled to put two in scoring position. Duncan came out for a visit. Patterson walked to load the bases. Maddux worked a full count before striking out swinging. Cubs 10-4.
Cards seventh – Ouch
Diaz reached on an infield single to third. After pinch-hitter Scott Seabol lined out, Eckstein ground into an inning-ending double play.
Cubs seventh – Shutout inning
Cal Eldred took over on the mound. He was the first to retire the Cubs in order. Heck, he was the first to retire the Cubs without scoring!
Cards eighth – Too little
Nunez doubled leading off, but was stranded.
Cubs eighth – More pain
Eldred worked his second inning. Ramirez was brushed with a pitch, leading off. Nomar dropped a single in front of the left fielder. Ho hum. Patterson knocked home another run. Cubs 11-4.
Cards ninth – Too late
So singled with one out. Dusty Baker came out to talk to Maddux. He didn't take him out and I wonder if Baker just didn't do it to get the cheers from the fans when he returned to the dugout alone. So was forced out at second by Diaz.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Friday @ Cubs: Jason Marquis vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:20pm FSNM/WGN
Saturday @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter vs. Jerome Williams 12:15pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Mark Prior 7:05pm ESPN
Monday: Off day
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.