CHICAGO (AP) -- Fernando Vina is making up for his homer drought
in a hurry.
Vina hit his third career grand slam Friday as the St. Louis
Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 to snap a four-game losing
streak. After going 501 at-bats without a homer, he has three in
his last seven games.
"He chose the wrong time, for us, to get hot," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said.
Jeff Fassero pitched the ninth against his old team to earn his
first save of the year.
Corey Patterson and Moises Alou hit solo home runs, but it
wasn't enough for the Cubs, who stranded seven, four in scoring
position. Carlos Zambrano, pitching a day after his wife gave birth
to their second child, gave up six runs and eight hits in 7 1-3
"I was just trying to throw the ball inside. It was a very good
pitch, but I think he was waiting for that,'' said Zambrano (3-3).
"That was a big mistake. Especially in this series, you can't make
With less than 300 miles separating St. Louis and Chicago, the
Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is one of the game's best. Fans are always
passionate, wearing their team colors proudly, packing the stadium
and loudly booing the opponent.
And this year's meetings have added spice. The Cardinals won
seven straight to pull into a first-place tie with Chicago. But
after a dismal 0-for-4 trip to Cincinnati, St. Louis arrived 1˝
It may only be May, but it's never too early to start keeping an
eye on the division-standing flags above the Wrigley Field
"It's a rivalry game and we really needed this game," Vina
said. "There is a lot of electricity in this stadium. The fans
here make it such a great place to play."
And Vina and the Cardinals took advantage of that hospitality,
staging a two-out rally in the second. Edgar Renteria started it
with an infield single, and Mike Matheny drew a walk. Morris then
singled up the middle to load the bases.
That brought up Vina, who blasted the first pitch he saw. With a
little extra push from the wind, the ball landed in the right-field
bleachers for a grand slam.
"To get a big lead for Morris early is big for us,'' Vina said.
"It doesn't relieve all of the pressure, but it relieves some of
the pressure on him."
Zambrano allowed only two hits over the next five innings,
giving the Cubs a chance to rally. Patterson homered in the second
inning, and Alou led off the fourth with a homer, a monster shot
that hit Waveland Avenue and pulled the Cubs within 4-3.
Chicago had a chance to add on a couple more runs when Morris
loaded the bases by walking Paul Bako, but Zambrano grounded into a
double play to end the inning.
Sammy Sosa reached third with two outs in the fifth, but Hee
Seop Choi struck out swinging to end that threat.
The Cardinals gave Morris a couple of insurance runs in the
eighth. Taking a pitch on a 3-1 count, Drew thought it was a ball
and tossed his bat as if to go to first on a walk. But home plate
umpire Mike Winters called it a strike. Drew and Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa argued the call, and La Russa got tossed.
It ended up being a fuss over nothing, as Drew homered to center
on the 3-2 pitch.
"They got that big hit, but we came back, cut it to a one-run
deficit. We just couldn't quite pull even," Patterson said. "I'm
very happy we did come back, we didn't give up. We held them there
for a little bit to make the game close. We could have easily just
packed it in and gave up, but we didn't do that."
It was the second time this season La Russa has been
ejected. ... Vina's last grand slam was on May 26, 2002, against
Pittsburgh. ... Patterson was 3-for-4 while Alou was 2-for-3. ...
The crowd of 38,531 was the largest of the season so far at Wrigley
Field. ... Morris has worked six or more innings in all of his
eight starts. ... Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel's
first start of the season wasn't much better than his relief
appearances for Double-A Tennessee. The 23-year-old left-hander threw just two innings, giving up
five earned runs, three hits and four walks. He didn't throw any wild pitches, but did have two balls reach
the backstop with nobody on base. Ankiel's record remained 1-1, but
his ERA has ballooned to 9.56 in the Southern League.