Matt Clement is starting to get a bit of a complex about pitching in Wrigley Field.
"It seems like every time I pitch, the wind is howling out for some reason," Clement said. "I don't know why."
He may lack meteorological knowledge, but Clement definitely knows how to pitch, and the wind was no factor to him on a humid Tuesday night at Wrigley.
Clement threw eight strong innings in a 7-3 victory over St. Louis before a sellout crowd of 39,388, giving him his seventh victory.
While Clement and the Cubs were in control most of the night, Cardinals right-fielder Roger Cedeno suffered a complete meltdown in the eighth inning and is likely to draw a lengthy suspension for spitting on plate umpire Rick Reed.
After Reed ejected him for loitering around the batter's box when directed to step in and hit with two strikes, Cedeno immediately got in Reed's face and spit on the umpire while yelling profanities.
"He definitely meant to spray and he definitely did," Reed said. "I needed a windshield wiper after he was done. It was unprofessional."
Reed will file a report with major-league disciplinarian Bob Watson and the videotaped evidence no doubt will work against the Cardinals outfielder.
"I know they'll fine me," Cedeno said in an understatement. "They missed the call twice, and then I get thrown out."
The Cubs came into Tuesday night hitting .252 and averaging four runs per game in the 20 games they have played since Sammy Sosa's back problem put him on the disabled list May 16. But with summer's heat arriving and a favorable wind, they pounded out 12 hits in five innings off St. Louis starter Woody Williams, finishing with 13 hits on the night.
Wednesday's game features a marquee matchup of Mark Prior vs. Matt Morris.
"You know Morris is always tough," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We got to him last time, finally. And you know how Prior feels about those Cardinals."
Prior's return hasn't gotten the Cubs on a hot streak yet, but the five Cubs starters have a combined 2.25 earned-run average with 32 strikeouts and only five walks since Prior came back last Friday against Pittsburgh. If that holds up, the Cubs figure to get enough strong starting pitching to get on a roll for the first time since a six-game winning streak at the end of April.
The offense has been hit and miss all year, but everyone in the lineup contributed on Tuesday. Amazingly, the Cubs scored all their runs without the benefit of a home run. Before Tuesday, a whopping 45 percent of their runs came via the long ball, suggesting a one-dimensional offense that can't manufacture runs.
Derrek Lee went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs, seemingly busting out of his malaise. A career .228 hitter in April and a .223 hitter in May, Lee entered June with a .257 average, which was above his norm but far below the expectations everyone had for him when he arrived in an off-season trade with Florida.
But Lee has hit .286 in past Junes and .291 in July, heating up with the weather every year.
"I'm driving some balls in the gap," Lee said. "That's a good sign. Just try to build on that every day."
The Cubs cranked out six straight hits off Williams during a four-run third, tying the game on Aramis Ramirez's RBI single and taking a 3-1 lead on Todd Hollandsworth's two-run double. Lee followed with a run-scoring double before Williams got out of the inning.
Scott Rolen's second solo home run, which landed on Waveland Avenue, sliced the deficit in half in the fourth. But the Cubs came up with three more runs off Williams in the fifth.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times