Quantcast 2008 St. Louis Cardinals: Cards Have no Answer for Cubs Starters; Drop Series
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Cards Have no Answer for Cubs Starters; Drop Series

The Cardinals opened up a series at Busch Stadium this holiday weekend with a chance to chop into or take the lead away from the Chicago Cubs with a series win against their NL Central rivals. Standing in their way in Game 1 was a man the Redbirds have always had difficulties figuring out in Carlos Zambrano.

Cardinals hats & merchandiseCarlos Zambrano set the tone for the series in game 1 with a gorgeous outing throwing 6 shutout innings while striking out 5. The Cubs lead 2-0 heading into the bottom of the 8 th when the fans at Busch got to witness some history. Albert Pujols sent a 2-2 fastball from Bob Howry over the left field wall for his milestone 300 th big league homer in just his 7th season. This accomplishment could not inspire the Redbirds enough, however, as Kerry Wood shut the door in the 9th to earn his 22nd save of the season.

On Saturday, it was much of the same story early on as Kyle Lohse looked for his 11th victory of the season. The Cardinals couldn’t get to Ted Lilly until Rick Ankiel tied the game in the 6th with a 2-run blast. The Cubs looked headed for another victory in St. Louis after Aramis Ramirez came out of a slump in a big way in the 8th with a 2-run shot to center. Kerry Wood entered the game in the bottom of the 9th after being spotted a 2-run lead as he looked for saves on consecutive outings. Wood struggled with his location and would walk the first 2 batters in the inning he faced. Adam Kennedy went right after a first pitch fastball scoring Ryan Ludwick and giving the Cardinals runners on 2nd and 3rd with still no outs. After an intentional pass to Chris Duncan, Wood was able to get a force out on a fielder’s choice from Brendan Ryan. After inducing a short flyout from Aaron Miles it looked like Wood might be able to hold on for the win until Rick Ankiel came through in the clutch for St. Louis driving in a pair of runs on a single up the middle. Kyle McClellan earned his first big league victory improving to 1-3. Kerry Wood took the blown save and the loss taking his record to 4-2.

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The rubber match lacked excitement as Cubs starter Sean Marshall had an assortment of pitches working for him on Sunday. The Cubs jumped on Todd Wellemeyer early and never looked back cruising to a 7-1 victory in St. Louis to take a 3½ game lead in the division. The win would be Marshall’s first of the year and Neil Cotts got the hold and improved his impressive ERA to 2.57. Geovany Soto would celebrate the announcement of his 1st all-star game with his 15th home run of the year off of Russ Springer in the 8th. The Cubs will send 7 players this year to the all-star game in The Bronx while Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick will be the lone representatives for St. Louis.

The task at hand will be a difficult one for the Redbirds after Milwaukee acquired last year’s AL Cy Young Winner, C.C. Sabathia over the weekend. The Brewers have moved into a tie for 2nd place in the division with St. Louis and now the Cards will have to head to Philly to begin a 6 game road trip before the All-Star break. Joel Pineiro (2-4) will have to deal with Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels (9-5) on Tuesday. Mark Mulder is again set to make his first start of the season on Wednesday against J.A. Happ who just made his first start of the season on Friday earning a no-decision. Braden Looper (9-6) and veteran lefty Jamie Moyer (7-6) will cap the series off on Thursday.



By Zack Estes
St. Louis Cardinals Correspondent

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