The Cubs’ 2-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch on Saturday was just their fourth victory in their last 25 games at the park dating to 2000.
“I knew it was a bad number,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said after his team won for the sixth time in seven games overall, extending its lead in the NL Central to two games.
“It’s a tough place to play and a tough place to win.”
Mark Bellhorn came through with a tiebreaking eighth-inning pinch homer Saturday, breaking out of a personal 10-for-54 slump. Bellhorn set a franchise record for switch hitters with 27 homers last year, but has managed to go deep just twice this season.
“I hope I can feed off this tomorrow and maybe even for a couple of weeks and the rest of the year,” said Bellhorn, who had not homered since April 15.
“I’ve been struggling and once I come out of this I’ll be fine.”
The loss was the eighth in the last 11 games for the struggling Cardinals, who were in first place in the Central before the slump. St. Louis reliever Steve Kline gave up Bellhorn’s blast, marking the fifth time in his last eight appearances that he has surrendered at least one run.
“It’s the story of my life right now,” Kline said. “I threw one bad pitch. It was down, but it just got too much of the plate.”
STANDINGS: Cubs - 1st place, NL Central. Cardinals - 3rd place, 4 GB, NL Central.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Shawn Estes (4-3, 5.08 ERA). Estes has been the Cubs hottest pitcher this month, winning all three of his starts and pitching to a 2.53 ERA. The left-hander is coming off a 7-2 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday, when he allowed just two runs and five hits over seven innings. Estes is 3-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Simontacchi (1-3, 7.41 ERA). Simontacchi was pounded in his last start against Cincinnati on Tuesday, allowing seven runs and seven hits in just 1 2-3 innings. The right-hander has struggled with his command this season, allowing 40 hits and 19 walks in 34 innings. Simontacchi has been ineffective in his three career starts against the Cubs, going 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cubs - Corey Patterson, .321 avg., 8 HRs, 34 RBIs and 8 SBs.; Alex Gonzalez, 29 runs. Cardinals - Edgar Renteria, .354 avg. and 31 RBIs and 4 SBs; Albert Pujols, 10 HRs and 31 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - The Cubs have won seven games in their last at bats this season. … LHP Mark Guthrie was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with soreness in his forearm. … RHP Dave Veres, sidelined with a shoulder injury, may begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa on Monday. Cardinals - The Cardinals’ four Gold Glove winners, 2B Fernando Vina, 3B Scott Rolen, CF Jim Edmonds and C Mike Matheny, received their trophies in a pregame ceremony Saturday. … Manager Tony LaRussa was ejected in the seventh inning Saturday for arguing balls and strikes. … The Cardinals were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 13-8 on the road; Cardinals - 12-7 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - OF Sammy Sosa (toe), 15-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Guthrie (forearm), 15-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Isringhausen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL; C Joe Girardi (back), 60-day DL.