Jim Edmonds (right) is greeted at home plate after his second homer. (Brian Kersey/AP)
Renteria hits a grand slam: 56K | 350K Edmonds homers twice: 56K | 350K
CHICAGO -- It's somewhat fitting that with the Cardinals and Cubs both dealing with more injuries than they would like, Wednesday's game between the two old rivals would be defined by a matchup between an ailing Edgar Renteria and a less-than-sharp Mark Prior.
The sick shortstop got the best of the returning right-hander, crushing his third career grand slam in the fourth inning, to help send the Cardinals to a 12-4 win at Wrigley Field.
Prior's usual pinpoint control was nowhere to be found, and the Cards made him pay. The Chicago ace, making his second start of the year after sustaining an Achilles' tendon injury, walked five in 3 2/3 innings. Three of those walks loaded the bases for Renteria, who crushed a 2-0 pitch out of the yard and onto Waveland Avenue in the fourth inning.
Renteria had missed Tuesday night's game with a stomach illness, and he wasn't sure on Wednesday morning that he'd be able to play in the afternoon contest.
"Before the game I felt bad," he said. "I came in this morning, I got a lot of fluids, drank a lot of water and I felt better. About an hour and a half before the game I knew I would play. I felt much better."
Then he hit the homer, his first hit in 12 career at-bats against Prior. And he felt better still.
"He threw me a fastball up and I reacted to the ball," said Renteria. "A fastball high, but a good pitch to hit. I tried to put a good swing on the ball."
Jim Edmonds dealt with a challenge of his own, dusting himself off after being knocked down and going on to homer twice for the Redbirds. Edmonds' three-run blast in the eighth put the game out of reach.
Jim Edmonds / CF
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
St. Louis improved to 2-1 without slugger Albert Pujols in the lineup. Pujols suffered a strained hamstring on Sunday and hasn't played since.
"I just hit two balls hard in a small ballpark," said Edmonds. "I've had a tough season so I'm just trying to do my job. Got lucky today, I guess."
Matt Morris struggled through five innings for his sixth win and the 11th of his career against Chicago. The Cardinals ace was roughed up a bit, permitting four runs on eight hits and walking four. St. Louis' bullpen kept up its strong run of late with four shutout innings.
As tends to be the case when Tony La Russa's Cardinals and Dusty Baker's Cubs get together, the game was not without some fireworks. Already sensitive to high-and-tight pitches after a recent series against Pittsburgh, the Cards took exception to a couple of pitches that came up and inside -- one by Prior against So Taguchi in the fourth, and another from Jon Leicester on Edmonds in the fifth.
When a Morris pitch sailed dangerously close to Derrek Lee's head in the bottom of the fifth, Lee was angered and both dugouts emptied. Though plenty of words were exchanged, no punches were thrown and nobody was tossed.
"I don't have a problem defending your players," said Lee. "But I don't think you should throw above the shoulders. You can hit me in the elbow and ribs. I don't have a problem with that. I just don't think you throw above the shoulders."
To a man, however, the Cardinals downplayed the situation. That contrasted from the umbrage they took at a series of pitches that came too close to players' heads recently in Pittsburgh.
"I'd be (angry), too," Morris said, referring to Lee. "But it's just the way the game is played. I'm trying to run balls in to get outs, and he's an out-over-the-plate hitter. All these guys by their second or third at-bat, they knew where I'm throwing the ball."
Morris and Chicago hitting coach Gary Matthews appeared to have a particularly heated exchange, but Morris minimized that as well.
"There's a lot of words," Morris said. "I didn't hear what he was saying directly. Trying to protect his hitters. I don't know. We've been dusted quite a bit. That wasn't the point. I was trying to get the ball in on him."
It was Edmonds who showed the perfect reaction to chin music, though. Two pitches after Leicester buzzed him, Edmonds mauled a 2-2 offering deep over the seats in right field to make it 6-3.
Chicago closed within 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth, but got no closer. The Redbirds erupted for a six-run eighth against two of the Cubs' better relievers, Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Remlinger.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.