ST. LOUIS — Jason Marquis has come back to haunt his former team.
Matt Murton hit a three-run home run, and Marquis allowed just one run while pitching into the seventh inning to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-2 win over the slumping St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Marquis says he gets no special thrill out of beating St. Louis, where he won 14 games last season. But he was happy to drop the defending World Series champion Cardinals another game off the pace in the NL Central.
“Obviously it’s big because it slowly takes them out of the equation,” Marquis said of the Cardinals, who have lost 10 of 11 and fell seven games out of first. “But a win is a win.”
Geovany Soto had a career-high four hits for the Cubs, who took three of four games in the series and maintained their one-game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. “We’re going home with two more wins than the team directly behind us.”
Things are going in the opposite direction for the Cardinals, who lost a four-game series for the first time since dropping three of four at home to Milwaukee to begin the 2004 season. But St. Louis manager Tony La Russa saw some positives in the defeat.
“It’s a loss, but all you had to do was watch the way the club (battled) when we got down 4-0,” La Russa said. “It’s a group to admire.”
After helping St. Louis win the division last season, Marquis (12-8) signed with the Cubs as a free agent. Marquis allowed one run and five hits, walking two and striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.
“I was making pitches when I needed to,” Marquis said. “I was aggressive within the strike zone, getting ahead of the hitters, which made me a lot more effective.”
Ryan Dempster pitched a scoreless ninth for his 28th save in 31 opportunities, and Chicago wrapped up a 7-4 road swing.
“We did what we had to do on this road trip,” Piniella said. “Now it’s a 12-game season.”
Mark Mulder (0-3), making his third start after spending most of the year recovering from surgery to his pitching shoulder, lasted three innings and gave up four runs and seven hits with three walks. Mulder has allowed 17 runs and 22 hits in 11 innings, a 12.27 ERA, in his past three starts.
“I had one bad inning,” Mulder said. “My arm kind of dropped in the second inning.”
Skip Schumaker, who came in as a pinch hitter, drove in both St. Louis runs. Rick Ankiel had two hits and reached base three times for the Cardinals.
Ankiel had been 2-for-29 with 10 strikeouts and no RBIs in 10 games after a report he received human growth hormone in 2004. Before the report, he hit .358 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 23 games.
Chicago scored all four of its runs in the third off Mulder. Alfonso Soriano began the inning with a double, but was still at third with two out when Mulder walked Aramis Ramirez. Murton then followed with a 366-foot home run off the left field foul pole that made it 3-0.
After Craig Monroe doubled and Soto reached on an infield single, Ronny Cedeno drove in Monroe with a single to center.
Schumaker cut it to 4-1 with a pinch-hit single off Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol in the seventh. He stayed in the game and made it 4-2 with a two-out, RBI single off Bob Howry an inning later.