Struggling Cubs No Match for Marquis, Cards

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Jason Marquis won his sixth straight decision Friday night as the St. Louis Cardinals handed the Chicago Cubs their fourth straight loss, 6-1. The front-running Redbirds cracked four homeruns and notched their seventh straight victory en route to taking a seven-game lead in the National League Central over the fading Cubs.

Edgar Renteria got things rolling off Cubs starter Greg Maddux in the first inning with a solo shot to left center, his sixth of the year, to make it 1-0. Two innings later, Tony Womack and Renteria singled to open the third and Albert Pujols skied an RBI sac fly to center to make it 2-0.

Pujols later went deep off Maddux (7-7) in the sixth, as did Jim Edmonds for the two sluggers' 22nd and 19th homeruns of the year, respectively.

Womack added a solo homer off right-hander Jon Leicester in the seventh, and veteran John Mabry singled to score Scott Rolen in the eighth against left-hander Kent Mercker.

Maddux pitched six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking three. Marquis (9-4) pitched all but one inning, alloiwng just a run on nine hits and stranding six Cub runners on base. He struck out only two and also walked two.

NOTES: After scoring nine runs in the first ten innings against the White Sox last weekend, the Cubs' offense has totaled a mere six runs in their last 49. Kerry Wood will be activated from the 15-day disabled list this weekend and will start Sunday night's series finale against Cardinal right-hander Chris Carpenter. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was ejected in the third inning by home plate umpire Derryl Cousins for arguing balls and strikes.

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