CHICAGO – Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer and Randy Wells pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto added solo shots for the Cubs, who trail first-place St. Louis by 10 games in the NL Central.
The Cardinals failed to get a run for the second straight day after outscoring opponents 46-17 during an eight-game winning streak. Albert Pujols was hitless in eight at-bats in the two losses, both coming in uncomfortably hot, humid conditions.
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 compiling a 5.21 mark in his first 15 outings, has allowed no runs in his past two games.
The biggest threat came in the sixth, when Jon Jay singled, went to second on Pujols' grounder and advanced on Wells' errant pickoff attempt. Wells then struck out Matt Holliday and got Colby Rasmus to pop out.
Sean Marshall wrapped up Chicago's first shutout since June 13 with two hitless innings.
Jeff 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.
Not only did Suppan's teammates fail to score, they also made defensive mistakes leading to three Chicago runs.
The Cubs already led 2-0 in the fifth when St. Louis second baseman Skip Schumaker botched a double play relay. Soriano then lined a 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 Tony La Russa had brief apprenticeships before becoming big league managers and 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."