Morris threw a four-hitter as the St. Louis Cardinals retained a
dominating home field advantage over the Cubs with a 2-0 victory.
The game lasted just 2 hours, 5 minutes, the shortest of the season
at Busch Stadium. It was one minute shorter than Morris' previous
start, a 4-0 loss to the Reds on Wednesday.
"I was just trying to make pitches and get out there and get it
over with, almost," Morris said. "It's fun to go out there when
you're in sync and able to make pitches and execute and start
playing with the mental part."
Of Morris' 117 pitches, 82 were strikes. He threw first-pitch
strikes to 23 of 30 batters.
"They had to swing," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "He had
The Cardinals took three of four in the series, outscoring the
Cubs 17-8, and pulled two games behind the NL Central leaders. The
Cubs are 2-11 at Busch Stadium the last two years and 4-23 there
over the last four years.
"We could have won at least two of these games," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said. "One hit or one play here or there would have
made the difference.
"We're coming back in August and we'll see what happens then."
Albert Pujols hit his 11th homer on a 1-2 pitch from Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth for the Cardinals' second run, and was
5-for-14 in the series with a pair of homers and four RBI. The
other run scored on a double play ball in the third inning.
"I think he only needed that one run," Pujols said. "But I
got a big hit right there and gave us a little insurance."
Morris (5-3) outdueled 21-year-old Carlos Zambrano, striking out
eight and walking none for his fourth career shutout and first
since blanking the Cubs 3-0 on May 13, 2002 in St. Louis. It was
his third complete game of the year and 11th of his career.
Morris has worked six or more innings in all of his 10 starts
and eight or more in three of his last four outings. He has won
four of his last five starts and improved his career record against
the Cubs to 9-2 with a 3.53 ERA.
Zambrano (4-4) allowed one run, unearned, on five hits in seven
innings. He struck out four and walked three.
"I like games like that," Zambrano said. "It makes you work
harder, and I think it makes you better."
But Zambrano's error, the 12th by Cubs pitchers this season, led
to the game's first run. After Mike Matheny singled to start the
third, Zambrano threw wildly to second on Morris' bunt in an
attempt to get the force, putting runners on first and third.
Matheny scored when Fernando Vina bounced into a double play.
"It's something that's been haunting us," Baker said. "We
know it, everyone knows it.
"We want to make the guys aware of it, but not make them so
conscious of it that they throw the ball away."
Morris retired the last 11 batters and benefited from some
strong defense. Third baseman Scott Rolen made a diving stab of
Harris' drive to start the eighth and J.D. Drew tracked down
Patterson's warning track drive in the sixth.
In Morris' last nine starts, he has allowed only 16 earned runs
in 67 2/3 innings for a 2.13 ERA.
Patterson stretched his hitting streak to a career-best 11
games with a double in the first and is 17-for-45 (.378) during
that stretch with three homers and 12 RBI. The entire Cardinals
team has made only three more errors than the total for the Cubs
pitchers. St. Louis' league-leading defense, which features four
Gold Glove winners from last season, hasn't committed an error in
83 1-3 innings since May 8 at Cincinnati. ... Rolen singled in the
fourth and is 18-for-45 (.400) during a 13-game hitting streak with
four homers and 11 RBI.