Cardinals 6, Cubs 4

By Chris Rewers on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hero: Darwin Barney went 3-for-4 (all singles), was hit by a pitch, and scored twice.

Goat: Cubs relievers had worked 22 2/3 straight scoreless innings over 11 games, and naturally the streak came to an end when the game was on the line. Kerry Wood (1-2) entered in the eighth with the score tied at 4 but surrendered a pair of two-out runs.

Key Play: With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, Wood decided to nibble with the weak-hitting Daniel Descalso who entered the evening with a .229 average. Descalso lined a 2-and-2 pitch for a two-run double inside the right-field line to put the Cardinals in front to stay.

Comments: The Cubs (15-19) managed 13 hits - all singles - in seven innings off St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter (1-2), but managed just four runs. Much has been made of the Cubs' failure to deliver with runners in scoring position - they stranded 12 baserunners Tuesday - but a lack of team speed and a lack of aggressiveness on the basepaths are just as responsible for the team's lack of run production. Nobody attempted to steal a base. Manager Mike Quade never put runners in motion. The Cubs baserunners for the most part advanced one base at a time. When you don't hit home runs, it is hard to win games that way. ... Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was lifted for pinch hitter Koyie Hill in the bottom of the first after he strained his groin while blocking a Carlos Zambrano pitch in the top of the first. ... Starlin Castro (2-for-4), who entered the game in a 2-for-25 slump, was dropped to seventh in the batting order - the first time he did not bat first, second, or third. Alfonso Soriano was moved out of the seven hole for the first time this year and batted fifth. ... St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa missed the game because of shingles. Bench coach Joe Pettini served as the Cardinals' acting manager.

A couple of glaring mistakes:

* Right fielder Kosuke Fukudome missed cutoff man Castro with a relay throw in the fourth after a Yadier Molina double into the right-center gap, allowing the slower than slow Lance Berkman to score from first base.

* In the seventh, Nick Punto scored from third on a one-out sacrifice fly by Ryan Theriot. Fukudome caught the ball in shallow right and made a perfect throw to the plate. The throw beat Punto to the plate by two to three steps but the ball bounced off Hill's glove as the Cubs catcher apparently took his eye off the ball.

A couple of other specific moments that were upsetting:

* Hill, who was hitting .167, came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first. Although Castro had just reached by walking on four pitches, Hill took a hack at Carpenter's firstg pitch and weakly popped out to shortstop Theriot.

* Aramis Ramirez (3-for-5, 2 RBI) was on first with two outs in the fifth and remained anchored to first base while Carlos Pena popped out to third baseman Descalso to end the inning.

Next; The Cubs and Cardinals continue their series Wednesday (CSN, 7:05 p.m.) with Matt Garza (1-4, 4.43 ERA) opposing St. Louis right-hander Jake Westbrook (2-2, 6.14) .

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