A day after their closer allowed three runs in a disappointing loss, the Cubs took Wood out of the equation. Chicago banged out 16 hits and got strong starting pitching in a 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
"Those things happen," manager Lou Piniella said. "They happen a few times a year and the problem is you don't like 'em when they happen. We bounced back, and now we can enjoy our day off a little more."
Aramis Ramirez had two hits and three RBI and Sean Marshall won his first game of the year with six strong innings, keeping his spot in the rotation heading into the All-Star break. The Cubs concluded a 4-6 trip, their longest of the year, on a high note by extending their Central lead to 3½ games over the Cardinals and Milwaukee.
Geovany Soto hit his 15th homer and Derrek Lee had three hits and an RBI for the Cubs, who took two of three in the series. The weekend series was sold out with standing-room attendance of 46,752 for the finale and the three-day total of 140,067 was the most ever at three-year-old Busch Stadium.
Ryan Ludwick, selected for his first All-Star game earlier in the day, hit his 17th homer and first since June 11 for the Cardinals. Manager Tony La Russa informed Ludwick before the game that he was heading to Yankee Stadium.
"Of course it's an accomplishment and you get excited," Ludwick said. "I told him it was a long ways from the Toledo All-Star Game in the International League."
The right fielder lost Soto's catchable foul flyball in the sun the pitch before the catcher's homer off Russ Springer in the eighth.
Cardinals center fielder Rick Ankiel threw out Daryle Ward at the plate in the eighth trying to score from second on Mike Fontenot's single, a day after getting the game-winning two-run single. Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 13 games for St. Louis, which concluded a 3-4 homestand.
Marshall (1-2) won for the first time in five starts dating to last season, allowing one run on six hits in six innings, and has had two straight impressive outings counting a seven-inning stint against the White Sox a week earlier. Besides Ludwick's homer with one out in the sixth, the Cardinals had only two other runners in scoring position against the left-hander.
"He had success because he was moving the ball around," Soto said. "He pitched a great game. It's good to see Marshall stepping up."
The Cubs scored single runs in the second, third and fifth, peppering Todd Wellemeyer (7-4) with nine hits. Mark DeRosa had an RBI single in the first and Ramirez added an RBI single in the third and sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Ramirez had been 0-for-28 before hitting a two-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth inning Saturday.
Soto's homer total is the most by a Cubs rookie since Mel Hall hit 17 in 1983, and the most for the franchise by a catcher since Randy Hundley hit 19 in 1966. Ryan Theriot had three hits and is among the league leaders with 33 multihit games.
Wellemeyer is 0-3 while allowing 17 runs on 18 1/3 innings his last four starts, and had his turn skipped twice in June due to elbow soreness.
"The elbow's fine. Location isn't," Wellemeyer said. "I'll get back in there. I know what I need to do."
Springer double-pumped when first baseman Albert Pujols was late covering the bag on Kosuke Fukudome's two-out comebacker in the eighth and then uncorked a wild throw to allow an unearned run in the eighth.
Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and is 0-for-24 with 10 strikeouts on the year against the Cubs.
- The Cubs were 1-6-1 in their first eight road series and are 3-2-2 since then.
- Jim Edmonds, 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning Saturday, did not play in the series finale.
- Brendan Ryan is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.
- Molina is batting .362 (17-for-47) during his hitting streak.