Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
They certainly weren’t complaining Friday.
Pierre’s bases-loaded triple highlighted a six-run fourth inning, and the Cubs capitalized on a key error by St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen to beat the Cardinals 6-5 in front of a loud, bipartisan crowd at Wrigley Field.
“When I’m able to drive in runs, I get excited,” Pierre said. “That’s something I don’t do too often. A lot of opportunities I’ve missed out on this year. I’m usually on the other end, scoring runs.”
Pierre has picked up seven of his 23 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak that has boosted his average to .281.
Looking for someone to spark their offense, the Cubs acquired Pierre in the offseason from the Florida Marlins. Pierre had a poor first half, but has rebounded to hit .370 in July after bringing a .255 average into the month.
“This is the Juan Pierre we traded for,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s playing great defense and he’s stealing bases and he’s getting on base.”
The game was tied at 3 with two outs in the fourth when Chicago starter Carlos Marmol hit a grounder to Rolen. The six-time Gold Glover looked to second for a force out and then threw high to first, pulling Albert Pujols off the bag, keeping the inning alive and loading the bases for Pierre.
“I made a slight adjustment and I didn’t make it very well,” said Rolen, who also made a key fielding error in Thursday’s 5-4 loss. “That’s two in a row. I’d like to nip that.”
Pierre, who led off the game with a double, then smacked his eighth triple past first to put the Cubs ahead.
St. Louis pitcher Jason Marquis (12-8) came into the game leading the National League in wins, but couldn’t make it out off the fourth. He gave up six hits, four for extra bases, in the inning.
Marquis gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out one in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
“It’s up to the pitcher to pick up the defense,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “I certainly don’t look at that inning because there was a throw that was high and whether the umpire got it right or wrong. That’s not how I look at that inning.”
Marmol (4-4) had trouble with his command for most of the game. After striking out four of the first seven batters, he walked seven before being pulled with two on and one out in the sixth. The rookie right-hander, who was converted to a pitcher in 2003, tied his season high in walks and is averaging 5.8 walks a game over his last five starts.
“He’s a survivor. He wants to stay here, certainly,” Baker said. “He’s walking guys because he doesn’t have a consistent arm slot yet. When he gets that, this guy’s going to be a very good pitcher.”
Ryan Dempster threw a perfect ninth to earn his 19th save in 24 opportunities.
Chicago’s Ronny Cedeno appeared to be hit in the right wrist by Braden Looper in the bottom of the eighth inning. The shortstop rolled on the ground in pain, but home plate umpire Ed Montague said Cedeno was trying to swing and he called a strike, Baker said.
The Cubs manager, who came out to check on Cedeno, began arguing with Montague and was ejected for the first time this season.
“I was telling Monty, he didn’t try to bunt the ball,” Baker said. “The bat was up and that ball was up and in. Clearly he was trying to get out of the way of that ball. The ball hit him and he knew it hit him, but he called it a strike. That’s what set me off.”
Tempers nearly flared earlier in the game. Ramirez had to be restrained by St. Louis catcher Gary Bennett after Looper hit him on the backside in the seventh. Novoa hit Rolen in the shoulder blade in the top half of the inning. Montague issued warnings to both sides after Ramirez was hit.
“First of all, there wasn’t any pitch that was intentional,” La Russa said.
The Cardinals scored twice in the third and made it 3-0 in the fourth on an RBI single by Hector Luna.
Marmol is the first Cubs pitcher to walk seven batters and still win since Mike Morgan did it on May 28, 1992, against San Francisco. … The Cubs have won six straight against the Cardinals and are 8-3 against them. St. Louis leads the NL Central despite a 21-22 record in the division. … The Cubs hit for the cycle in the fourth with two singles, two triples, a double and a home run. … Rolen has nine errors this year. He had six in 56 games in 2005 and 10 in 142 games in 2004. … The Cardinals are 28-10 in day games and have two more in Chicago in this series. They are 0-8 in Chicago after getting swept at Wrigley Field on April 7-9 and against the White Sox from June 20-22.