Hero: Casey Coleman (3-2) allowed three runs - two earned - on five hits over seven innings while striking out four and walking two. Coleman, who did not allow a hit after the third, retired the last nine and 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Goat: Where have you gone Welington Castillo? Koyie Hill, the starting catcher for the fifth straight game, went 0-for-4 to lower his average to .215. He is 1-for-16 (.063) on the homestand.
Castillo has batted just once since going 2-for-4 with a double and a homer last Sunday in Florida. Why is the 23-year-old rookie planted on the bench behind a 31-year-old journeyman 4A player like Hill? It doesn't make sense.
Key Play: Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter (15-9) was nursing a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third. There were two outs with Cubs Aramis Ramirez on first and Kosuke Fukudome on second. A Micah Hoffpauir smash was knocked down by St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols as Fukudome made an ill-advised dash for home. Fukudome hit the brakes two-thirds of the way down the line as catcher Bryan Anderson received a perfect throw from Pujols in front of the plate and then ran the Cubs baserunner back to third, but Anderson's throw sailed over the head of third baseman Daniel Descalso. Fukudome trotted home.
Alfonso Soriano was intentionally walked to load the bases and Sam Fuld capped a four-run inning with a two-run single.
Comments: Carlos Marmol, in a non-save situation, struck out the side in the ninth to give him 131 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings - an average of 16 per nine innings. When Marmol struck out Mark Hamilton for the second out of the inning, he broke Bruce Sutter's 33-year-old single-season club record for strikeouts by a pitcher used exclusively in relief.
Aramis Ramirez (2-for-4) had a pair of two-out RBI singles, but his defense continues to leave a lot to be desired. In the second inning, Pujols doubled inside of the third base bag, just to the right of the Cubs third baseman, driving in a run. Pujols scored an unearned run when the next batter, Matt Holliday, reached on a Ramirez throwing error.
Blake DeWitt (2-for-5) contributed a triple, double, two RBI, and a run.
Carpenter has lost each of his last four starts and surrendered four runs in an inning in each of those outings. The Cubs (70-84) have defeated Carpenter the last three times he has started against them.
Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth exited the game in the fifth after facing just two batters when he was hit in the face by a Fuld line drive.
The second-place Cardinals (79-75), whose elimination number is two, trail the first-place Reds by eight games in the NL Central. St. Louis may be mathematically alive, but the players the Cubs have seen in this series illustrates that manager Tony LaRussa has thrown in the towel. With Descalso, Anderson, Hamilton, and Matt Pagnozzi getting playing time, the Cardinals' lineup does not have the flavor of a postseason contender.
The paid crowd of 39,316 on a chilly, overcast afternoon pushed the Cubs past the 3 million mark for the seventh consecutive season.
Shame on the Wrigley patrons who participated in the Wave in the eighth inning. It's becoming a regular occurence at the Friendly Confines, an embarassing development for many longtime fans.
Next: In the Wrigley Field season finale Sunday (WGN, 1:20 p.m.), the Cubs will aim for their 10th win in 15 games against St. Louis.
Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 6.00 ERA), who beat the Cardinals in a Sept. 13 start, will make his only start of the season at the Friendly Confines.
The Cards will counter with veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook (8-11, 4.37) who has walked 11 over his last three outings. Westbrook walked just eight in his first seven starts with St. Louis since being acquired from Cleveland on July 31.