ST. LOUIS — Kerry Wood came off the disabled and list kept the Chicago Cubs’ six-game trip from being a total loss.
Wood won in his first start in two months and Sammy Sosa hit a home run and drove in five runs, helping the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-4 on Sunday night to enter the All-Star break on a positive note.
“That was the biggest getaway victory we’ve had,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Woody was outstanding.”
The Cubs salvaged the final game of a six-game trip after they managed a total of five runs in the first five games, and kept the Cardinals from completing a perfect homestand.
Wood said he didn’t feel the pressure of the Cubs’ slump or the Cardinals’ streak.
“It was just a day to go out and get some work in and do the best I could,” Wood said. “I wasn’t worried about anything else that happened in the last five or six days.
“I guess that helped more than anything, not even thinking about it or worrying about it.”
The Cardinals, who lead the Cubs in the NL Central by seven games, outscored their opponents 45-13 in the first eight games before Chris Carpenter got rocked in the final game before the All-Star break.
“I was one pitch away from getting out of the whole situation and I just couldn’t make that pitch,” Carpenter said. “I got the ball up and they were on it all night.”
Wood (4-3), sidelined since May 11 with triceps tendinitis, gave up one run and three hits in five innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He threw 80 pitches in his first victory since beating the Mets with seven shutout innings on April 24.
Not only that, he gave the Cubs a mental lift.
“He was such a huge part of last year,” Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said. “I wasn’t there but I can sort of sense what he means to this team.
“It’s nice to have him back and it kind of rubbed off on everybody.”
Jim Edmonds hit a home run in his fifth straight game for the Cardinals, hitting his 21st of the season in the fourth inning off Wood. St. Louis’ 10-game winning streak at home came to an end in front of 49,250, the third straight sellout of the series.
The Cardinals scored three runs against LaTroy Hawkins in the ninth, on Albert Pujols’ RBI single and sacrifice flies by Mike Matheny and Tony Womack.
Barrett also hit a home run and drove in two runs for the Cubs, who avoided getting swept in consecutive road series and won for only the ninth time in 40 games at Busch Stadium over the last five seasons.
Carpenter (9-4) struck out the first five batters on only 25 pitches, and retired the first two hitters in the third. He came unglued after right fielder Reggie Sanders twice mishandled the ball on Jose Macias’ two-out single, allowing Macias to go to third.
“It was so exciting at the beginning with both guys just really nasty,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “He had two outs, nobody on, and the next thing you look up there and there’s four on the board.”
Starting with Macias, 10 of the last 13 batters Carpenter faced reached safely. Sosa’s three-run shot was the big hit of a four-run third, and he chased Carpenter with a two-run single in the fourth that made it 6-0.