ST. LOUIS — Carlos Zambrano won his NL-leading 13th game and Aramis Ramirez’s third single of the game snapped a seventh-inning tie in the Chicago Cubs’ 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Third baseman Scott Rolen’s two-out fielding error on Ryan Theriot’s routine grounder opened the door in the pivotal inning for the Cubs, who are an NL-best 20-7 since June 3. Entering a six-game road trip, Chicago had lost two straight but has not lost three in a row since a six-game skid from May 27 to June 2.
Zambrano (13-7) threw 117 pitches in 61/3 innings and the Cardinals ended his scoreless streak at 201/3 innings over three games on Skip Schumaker’s two-run triple in the fifth. They couldn’t keep Zambrano from passing Brad Penny for the NL victory lead.
Zambrano, who struck out five and walked three, is 8-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 10 starts since June 2 and has allowed two or fewer runs in all but one of them.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick hit a single to left that Alfonso Soriano bobbled, allowing a run to score before Ryan Dempster finished for his 17th save in 19 chances. Albert Pujols went 0-for-5 and grounded out to end it.
Derrek Lee had two hits and an RBI, driving in a run off Russ Springer in the ninth in his first game back after serving a five-game suspension for his role in a June 16 brawl with the San Diego Padres.
Jacque Jones and Ronny Cedeno also drove in runs for the Cubs. Cedeno, recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier Tuesday, was batting only .034 when his single tied it at 2 in the sixth.
Kip Wells (4-13) made his second straight strong outing, allowing two earned runs on eight hits in 62/3 innings, but regained the major league lead in losses.
The Cardinals moved Wells, who threw eight scoreless innings in his previous start, ahead of Mike Maroth in the rotation, with Maroth now scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Brewers.
Wells got Zambrano and Soriano on groundouts to start the seventh before Rolen, a seven-time Gold Glove third baseman, couldn’t handle Theriot’s slow roller. Lee walked before Ramirez singled to break the 2-2 tie.
Carpenter undergoes surgery: Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter had reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday, an operation likely to sideline him for at least a year.
The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, out since opening day, had surgery in early May to remove bone spurs and was on a rehab assignment for Class A Palm Beach when he developed swelling and stiffness on July 8.
St. Louis team physician Dr. George Paletta operated Tuesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in Carpenter’s right elbow.
mulder on mend: Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder and right-handers Todd Wellemeyer and Josh Kinney also are on the DL. Kinney had reconstructive elbow surgery this spring.
Mulder, who had rotator cuff surgery last September, threw a bullpen session Tuesday and could be close to a rehab assignment.
“He’s making progress every time he goes out there,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s been exciting.”