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Cards get aggressive, beat Cubs

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- There was no panic in the St. Louis dugout Monday night when Chicago Cubs starter Travis Wood cruised through the first three innings on just 36 pitches.

"He's been tough on us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've had trouble stringing together hits against him. Second time through the lineup, it seems like our at-bats get better and the guys have a plan on what to do."

That plan enabled St. Louis to piece together a pair of two-run rallies against Wood, helping the Cardinals notch a rain-delayed 5-2 win at Busch Stadium.

Shelby Miller (8-4) allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five before leaving for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth. He suffered cramping in his right leg while pitching to Wood in the top of the inning.

Four relievers got the last 12 outs for St. Louis (45-25), with Edward Mujica picking up the last four for his 20th save in as many chances. The Cardinals maintained a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central over Cincinnati.

Miller admitted that he wasn't surprised when his leg started barking at him. Matheny visited him at the mound and gave thought to removing him two outs from qualifying for a win.

"I've been a little dehydrated this week," Miller said. "I guess I didn't get enough electrolytes in me. I battled through the last couple of outs, but I think we've got things taken care of now."

St. Louis took care of things offensively against Wood (5-6) with a more aggressive approach, particularly in the fourth.

Carlos Beltran led off with a first-pitch single and Matt Holliday lined a 2-0 pitch off the glove of second baseman Darwin Barney for a single. After Allen Craig's first-pitch sacrifice fly moved Beltran to third, league batting leader Yadier Molina cashed the opportunity in by rifling a 1-0 pitch to the wall in right-center for a two-run double.

"I thought we had a good plan against him the last time," Molina said of Wood's 2-1 win over the Cardinals on May 7 at Wrigley Field, "but he just beat us. I thought we executed our plan a little better tonight."

Torrential rains caused a delay of 1 hour and 59 minutes before the game's start, but it quickly settled into an expected pitching duel between Wood and Miller.

Both entered the game in the National League's top 10 in earned run average -- Wood at 2.65, Miller at 2.21 -- and each breezed through the first three innings. But the Cardinals finally cracked the code in the fourth and added two more in the seventh inning.

Following Pete Kozma's infield single with runners at second and third, first baseman Anthony Rizzo threw home even though Molina held at third.

The throw bounded off the backstop and Molina eventually scored, slipping his foot between Wood's legs as the pitcher tried to block the plate and receive the throw of catcher Welington Castillo. Cubs manager Dale Sveum argued at length with plate umpire D.J. Reyburn and was ejected.

Several replays didn't conclusively prove that Reyburn missed the call, although Wood begged to differ.

"My take on it was that he was out," Wood said of Molina. "But (Reyburn) has the (final) say and we just have to overcome it. I have to make better pitches."

"They teach us to go into home plate with our feet and that's what I was trying to do," Molina said of the play. "It was a tough call, but (Reyburn) got into the right spot."

St. Louis added a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Shane Robinson to make the score 4-0. After Chicago (28-40) scored its first run on Nate Schierholtz's shattered-bat single in its half of the eighth, the Cardinals tacked on their final tally in their half of the inning on Craig's sacrifice fly.

Barney homered with two outs in the ninth to cap the scoring.

NOTES: St. Louis' Jon Jay owns the league's longest active errorless streak among center fielders at 213 games, dating back to Aug. 24, 2011. Jay, who's successfully accepted 502 chances in that span, needs 14 more games to pass Curt Flood for the club record ... The Cubs are averaging just 2.9 runs per game against NL Central teams and 4.9 runs against everyone else. Not surprisingly, they are 8-22 against their division and 20-18 outside it ... Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist has started his big league career with 6 2/3 scoreless innings, the longest such streak for a rookie lefty in club history. Siegrist pitched 1 1/3 innings Monday night after Miller departed.
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