ST. LOUIS -- Greg Maddux won his final start at 40-year-old Busch Stadium, prompting a flood of memories.
"I took some time to reflect back on my experiences here because I guess you're going to blow it up once the season is over," Maddux said after throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the Chicago Cubs' 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. "Great fans, and all that.
"I'm sure they'll be the same fans just a block down the road or whatever."
Maddux topped 400 innings over the last two seasons, triggering an automatic $9 million option for next season, when he struck out Hector Luna for the second out in the fourth inning of his 317th career victory.
"If they want me I'd love to come back," Maddux said. "I'm not going to play because I can, I'm going to play because I deserve it."
The Cubs got just enough off Mark Mulder early and took two of three from the team with the NL's best record, winning their first season series in St. Louis since 1995.
Neifi Perez had an RBI double and Matt Murton a run-scoring single on consecutive at-bats with two outs in the second for the Cubs, who were 5-3 in St. Louis. The Cardinals lead the majors with an 88-52 record and have lost only three of 16 series since the All-Star break, all three to the Cubs.
The Cubs are 8-4 against the Cardinals this season, but 61-67 otherwise. The Cardinals are 42-20 against the NL Central overall, with a losing record only against Chicago.
"I mean, that's just baseball," infielder Abraham Nunez said. "I can't explain the success they've had against us."
Maddux (12-11) allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked two. He escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the third when Jim Edmonds grounded into a home-to-first double play and John Mabry struck out. The Cardinals were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against Maddux, who finished 13-8 with a 2.97 ERA at Busch.
His outing was perhaps shortened by a grounder off his right foot that ended up as an infield hit for Eckstein in the third.
"It was one of those games where I just felt I was always in a jam," Maddux said. "You never really get a chance to kind of get your second wind or whatever.
"I hit a wall and when you're done the bullpen has a lot better chance than you do. The bullpen was great."
Mulder (15-7) scattered 10 hits in his third complete game of the year and 25th of his career, continuing a second-half surge. He allowed two runs, struck out three and didn't walk a batter, throwing 96 pitches. He's 2-1 with two complete games in his last four starts, giving up four earned runs in 34 innings, a 1.06 ERA.
"When I'm throwing a good sinker, I get a lot of quick outs," Mulder said. "If I get beat, I want to get beat on my best pitches and that's what happened. I can handle that."
Pujols homered for the second time in three games with two outs in the seventh off Michael Wuertz to make it 2-1. He was 3-for-4, raising his average to .337.
Ryan Dempster, the Cubs' fourth pitcher, worked the ninth for his 24th save. He got Nunez on a called third strike with a runner on third for the final out.
- St. Louis' So Taguchi doubled in the sixth for his first extra-base hit since Aug. 16.
- Eckstein is 23-for-56 during his streak.
- Perez grounded into double plays in the seventh and ninth, giving him a team-leading 20 this season.
- Edmonds made a running over-the-shoulder catch of pinch-hitter Jose Macias' drive to the center field wall leading off the eighth.
- Attendance of 47,789 was the Cardinals' 38th sellout and 30th straight game with 40,000 or more.
- Maddux is one behind Phil Niekro for 15th on the career victory list.