Cubs 5, Cardinals 0
When scouting St. Louis hitters, Randy Wells didn't bother watching videotape of his previous outing against the Cardinals.
''There was no reason to dwell on me getting my butt kicked,'' the Cubs right-hander said. ''I finally got my confidence back, and I wasn't going to risk it by reliving that.''
About two months after failing to retire a single St. Louis batter in the worst game of his career, Wells pitched seven shutout innings Friday and led Chicago to a 5-0 victory over the suddenly punchless Cardinals.
Held to one hit in Thursday's 11-inning loss to Philadelphia, St. Louis followed with only five against Wells and Sean Marshall.
And so the Cardinals, who had outscored opponents 46-17 during an eight-game winning streak that ended Thursday, snapped a major league record stretch of 2,370 games without consecutive shutouts.
It last happened to them in September 1995 - the year before Tony La Russa took over as manager.
''We got the leadoff man on (five times) but couldn't score,'' La Russa said. ''The wind was blowing out for us, too. We have guys who can hit the ball out of the park - and they didn't.''
The best of those, Albert Pujols, went 0 for 8 in the two losses, both coming in uncomfortably hot, humid conditions.
Meanwhile, the Cubs took advantage of the wind - and of some pitches Jeff Suppan left up in the strike zone.
Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer and Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto added solo shots for the Cubs, who still trail first-place St. Louis by 10 games in the NL Central.
''We can make up a lot of ground,'' Soriano said. ''If we sweep them, we get three games. I hope we can play the last two like we played today.''
Wells (5-7) allowed five hits - one single in each of the second through sixth innings - and struck out seven. It was the polar opposite of his performance against the Cardinals on May 28, when he gave up hits to the first six batters and left trailing 5-0.
Wells, who has a 1.30 ERA in his past five starts after starting with 5.21 in his first 15 outings, has allowed no runs in his past two games.
''It was a mechanical (flaw) and once I fixed that, the results started coming and it's easy to get your confidence back,'' said Wells, who had a 3.05 ERA as a rookie last season. ''I can hold my head a little higher now.''
The biggest threat against him came in the sixth, when Jon Jay singled, went to second on Pujols' grounder and advanced on Wells' errant pickoff attempt. Wells struck out Matt Holliday and got Colby Rasmus to pop out.
Suppan (0-6) allowed five runs and 10 hits in six innings. He fell to 0-4 since rejoining the Cardinals last month after Milwaukee released him. St. Louis is 39-22 in games started by Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia but 15-21 otherwise.
''He pitched better than five runs,'' La Russa said of Suppan. ''We just didn't support him. We didn't get him any runs. And defensively we didn't support him as well as he deserved.''
The Cubs already led 2-0 in the fifth when St. Louis second baseman Skip Schumaker botched a double play relay. Soriano then lined his homer into the left-field bleachers. In the sixth, nobody caught Starlin Castro's infield pop, which fell for an RBI single.
Colvin opened the game with his first career leadoff homer. He is the first left-handed-hitting Cubs rookie with 14 home runs since Rafael Palmeiro in 1987.
Soto hit his 14th on the first pitch of the fourth inning and has homered in three straight games. He went deep only 11 times last season after hitting 23 as the 2008 NL rookie of the year.
Notes: Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano, suspended by the team after a June 25 altercation with teammates, could return by late next week after a few more minor league conditioning appearances. At that time, manager Lou Piniella said, Zambrano is expected to apologize. ... RHP P.J. Walters pitched two perfect innings for the Cardinals after being called up from Triple-A Memphis. ... Piniella, who will retire at season's end, didn't have a prototypical leadoff man during his four seasons in Chicago. ''That's something that has to be addressed,'' he said, with GM Jim Hendry standing close by. ... Both Piniella and childhood buddy La Russa had brief apprenticeships before beginning long managing careers. Both said Ryne Sandberg's lack of experience shouldn't work against him as Hendry searches for Piniella's replacement. ''It just depends on who believes in you,'' La Russa said. Added Piniella: ''Either you can manage or you can't.''