Cubs-Cardinals: St. Louis' Struggles May Cost Them NL Central

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2008

It wasn't Todd Wellemeyer's worst outing the year but as the Cardinals offense continued to show signs of heat stroke in the hot summer months, the Cubs took advantage.

The Cubs won Sunday's game 7-1 as they also took hold of the series and advanced their NL Central lead. With the Milwaukee Brewers win today as well, St. Louis seems to be letting up off the gas in the division.

With the Cardinals amazing comeback win yesterday against closer Kerry Wood, it seemed they had the momentum to take the series against their arch rivals. Alas, St. Louis' pitching and hitting failed to back up the high hopes of Cardinals nation.

Wellemeyer was not good nor horrible as he pitched five innings while only gaving up three runs on nine hits. He let Chicago get on base but kept the damage to a minimum to try and keep his team in the ball game. The young right-hander tried to right the ship, but it was too little too late.

Sean Marshall took the mound for the Cubs as he pitched a brilliant six innings while only giving up one run on six hits and striking out four. Ryan Ludwick, who had just been named to the All-Star team, hit a solo home run off of Marshall in the sixth inning. 

That would be all the offense St. Louis would generate the entire game as the Redbirds managed only seven hits total. Offensive opportunities were few and far between but the Cardinals managed to leave seven runners stranded in the summer heat.

The bullpen for both teams was similar to night and day. The Cubs bullpen pitched three scoreless innings as the Cardinals bullpen managed to allow three more runs to score.

Neal Cotts, Carlos Marmol, and Bob Howry all shutdown the Redbirds offense through the rest of the ball game. Chris Perez, Russ Springer, and Brad Thompson all managed to give up a run while allowing a couple more hits in each inning. In total, St. Louis gave up 16 hits in an anti-climatic finish on a hot Sunday afternoon.

As the Cardinals bullpen continues to struggle, it doesn't look good for them in trying to hold off Milwaukee and Chicago heading into the second half of the season. With the offense still relying on late inning heroics, the Cardinals continue to show flashes of brilliance followed by deflating losses.