Wilson feels right at homer in Cards debut vs. Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) -- Preston Wilson barely made his morning flight. The St. Louis Cardinals were glad he did.

Wilson was a smash in his first game for the NL Central leaders, hitting one of the Cardinals' six home runs Friday in an 11-3 romp over the Chicago Cubs.

"I made it to my flight at 5:58 for a 6 o'clock flight," Wilson said. "I got to the stadium, signed the papers and got to work."

Wilson had nine home runs and 55 RBI when Houston waived him Aug. 15. He signed earlier in the day with the Cardinals and helped them end a 10-game losing streak in Chicago this season -- seven to the Cubs and three against the White Sox.

"Things happen for a reason," Wilson said. "Maybe I'm here for a good reason."

Wilson started in right field, went 2-for-5 and stole a base. He and Gary Bennett hit solo home runs in the sixth off Roberto Novoa
that gave the Cardinals a 6-3 lead.

"It's the kind of first impression you want to make," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He did so many good things and gave us a lift right away."

The Cardinals lost leadoff man David Eckstein, however, with a strained oblique muscle in his left side. The All-Star shortstop was hurt when he slid into Cubs catcher Michael Barrett in the third inning.

Eckstein was examined at Wrigley Field.

"It's one of those things that's hard to really diagnose right now," Eckstein said. "We're going to wait until tomorrow and let it die down a little bit."

Both teams were warned by plate umpire Ed Hickox after Cubs rookie Carlos Marmol hit Scott Rolen with a pitch in the third inning. Marmol made two throwing errors in the inning.

While Wilson has played well at Wrigley Field this season, hitting .364 (8-for-22) with seven RBI, the Cardinals had not done much in Chicago.

"That's the first time we've seen the bottom of the ninth in this town," La Russa said. "It's about time."

The Cardinals need Wilson with center fielder Jim Edmonds
day-to-day with post-concussion syndrome. Edmonds hasn't played since leaving a game with dizziness and blurred vision Aug. 15.

"My last two to three weeks in Houston, I wasn't playing at all," Wilson said. "If I'm playing part-time here, that's playing more than they were letting me play there. My job here is to do whatever they ask me to do."

Albert Pujols, Rolen and Ronnie Belliard homered for the Cardinals in the seventh off David Aardsma. Pujols hit a two-run shot, his 36th, and Rolen followed with his 18th.

"A lot of those balls were right down the plate," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "You could've put them on a tee."

Chris Duncan hit his 12th homer in the first off Marmol (5-6). Duncan went 2-for-4 and is hitting .565 (13-for-23) over a six-game hitting streak.

The Cubs scored all their runs on homers. Barrett hit a solo drive in the first and Aramis Ramirez hit his team-high 29th in the fourth.

Jason Marquis (13-11) got the win, tying him with Brad Penny, Carlos Zambrano and Brandon Webb for the NL lead in wins. Marquis allowed three runs and three hits in five innings.

"I felt pretty good for the most part," Marquis said. "I wish I could've went deeper into the game."

It was 1-all when Marquis started a three-run third with a single. Eckstein also singled and Duncan had a sacrifice fly.

Eckstein scored on a single by Pujols and when the ball got loose at the plate, Marmol picked it up and ran toward Pujols, who was in between second and third. Marmol, a converted catcher, made a wild sidearm throw that let Pujols reach third. Eckstein said
Barrett's knee hit him in the ribs when he slid at the plate. He hurt his side twisting to touch home plate.

"I was trying to slide through him and he had just dropped his knee," Eckstein said. "His other knee came up and hit me right around my ribs area and sent me backwards. I hadn't tagged home plate yet and I was still trying to reach around."

Marmol then hit Rolen, prompting the warning. Marmol later made a poor pickoff throw to first that scored Pujols. Ramirez also had an error in the inning.

"That was a wild inning," Baker said. "We made a lot of mistakes and they seemed to come in bunches. We gave them three runs."

Baker said Marmol hurt his biceps on the throw to second and that the muscle had been bothering the pitcher for a few starts.

"That's usually a sign a guy's arm is tired," Baker said.

Game notes
The Cardinals sent down pitcher Anthony Reyes to make room for Wilson. ... St. Louis has hit back-to-back homers four times this season. ... Jets flew over Wrigley Field throughout the game as a warmup for this weekend's Air and Water Show in Chicago. ... The Cardinals are now 4-10 against the Cubs this season. ... The Cubs homered for the 12th straight game, the most since hitting in 12 straight on Sept. 8-20, 2005.