Fukudome leads Cubs barrage on Cards pitching
Kosuke Fukudome didn't want a birthday celebration from his teammates. He had no trouble giving them a present, though.
Fukudome hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high five runs on his 32nd birthday, helping the Cubs end a four-game skid with a 10-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Fukudome went 3-for-4 to hike his average to .371 after hitting .257 last season. He hit his fourth homer in the eighth off lefty reliever Trever Miller to finish the scoring.
"More than hitting, winning is the most important thing," Fukudome said through a translator. "I'm too old for a cake and I don't want to get fat."
However, hitting the homer off a southpaw was something to relish, Fukudome said.
"I think it is important to let manager Lou (Piniella) to know that I'm comfortable to hit a left-handed pitcher," Fukudome said.
Rich Harden (2-1) struck out nine in six innings for Chicago, which ended a four-game skid.
"It was definitely an important game because we had lost four in a row," Harden said. "You want to treat every start the same but you want to go out there and stop a slide like that."
Harden allowed four hits, including two solo homers.
"He was very good," St. Louis second baseman Skip Schumaker said about Harden. "He had that split working for him and it was really difficult to hit."
St. Louis' nine-game home winning streak ended. The Cardinals have won 10 of their 13 home games this season and are 13-6 overall, good for first in the NL Central. St. Louis finished its six-game homestand with a 5-1 record.
"We got really good results," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The way we look at it is what we put into it. Now we've got Atlanta and Washington and just keep doing what we're doing as far as the effort and keep getting better."
Chicago had 14 hits after scoring just five runs in its previous four games. Aaron Miles went 3-for-5 and scored twice.
"It was a good game for us," Piniella said. "Let's see if we can build on it."
Derrek Lee hit an RBI double in Chicago's three-run first but left the game before the Cubs took the field in the bottom half because of neck spasms. Micah Hoffpauir replaced him at first base. Piniella said Lee likely would not go on the disabled list.
"Yeah, it was nice to put some runs on the board in the first inning," Piniella said. "We've had trouble with men in scoring position. Today, we did a heck of a lot better. We gave our pitcher some runs to work it."
Hoffpauir led off the seventh with a home run to give the Cubs a 7-2 lead. The homer snapped a four-game team homerless drought.
Todd Wellemeyer (1-2) was tagged for six runs, five earned, and eight hits in five innings. He walked Hoffpauir with the bases loaded in the second to make it 4-0.
"It didn't go too well," Wellemeyer said. "They got some guys on base in the first and they capitalized on it and got them in and that's all there is too it."
La Russa said he believes Wellemeyer will improve.
"He's not as sharp as he can be. That's one of the beauties of playing 6 months and getting 30 starts," La Russa said. "He's not going to give in."
Yadier Molina and Rick Ankiel hit solo drives for St. Louis. Molina extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his second homer of the season.
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols reached base four times before hitting into a game-ending double play. He walked three times and was hit on the hip by Harden in the fifth.
St. Louis SS Khalil Greene committed his fifth error in 18 games in the fourth inning. It also was Cardinals' 20th in 19 games. ... Alfonso Soriano got hit in the helmet by Wellemeyer in the second inning. He stayed in the game. ... The 10 runs allowed were the most this season by the Cardinals.