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Matt Garza
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO -- Matt Garza went low-key during a rain delay and when it ended Wednesday night, he was rarin' to pitch.

His Chicago Cubs teammates were invigorated, as well, after the respite. Their bats were as potent as they've been all season.

The Cubs scored six runs in the third inning -- right after the 53-minute delay was over -- and went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-4 on Wednesday night in their highest-scoring game of the season.

"We needed one of these. We did," manager Mike Quade said after his team had 17 hits to match a season high. "I don't care if it took four hours or eight hours. Whatever. It was good for us, good for me to just be able to relax."

Garza (2-4) got his first win at Wrigley Field and he got big run support. During the delay, he chilled out.

"I got on the bike a little bit and waited until the rain stopped to play catch," he said. "Kinda just calming down. ... Trying to stay low-key, real mellow."

At the plate, Garza made the first out of the bottom of the third and also the final one. In between, the Cubs had seven straight men reach base in their biggest inning of the season.

"I used to make fun of guys who made the first and third out and now I'm one of them," Garza said. "It is what it is. We scored six and if I got to do that every time, why not?"

The Cards dropped to 1-1 without manager Tony La Russa, who missed his second straight game as he recovers from shingles. He'll be absent for the remainder of St. Louis' six-game road swing that ends Sunday in Cincinnati.

Garza (2-4) went five innings, allowing three hits and a run in his fifth start in the Cubs' home ballpark. He struck out seven, including the side in the fourth after the long delay following a thunderstorm and the Cubs' biggest inning of the season.

"I was fine. I was more than ready to keep going," he said. "They asked me how I felt and I felt good, so I said, ‘Hey why not?"‘

Starlin Castro, the Cubs' 21-year-old shortstop who'd been in a 2-for-25 slump when the series began, went 4 for 4 with three RBIs.

St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (2-3) became unglued following the rain delay, when the Cubs batted around.

"It definitely wasn't the delay," Westbrook said. "I felt great. Zero excuse. Same pattern as the start of the game. I was getting behind guys, kind of one of those where you can't continue to pitch that way."

After a slow start this season, Westbrook had pitched at least six innings in his previous three outings, so Wednesday night was a setback.

"Kind of went back to the same thing I was doing earlier in the season," he said. "It's something I can't do."

Westbrook gave up one-out singles to Kosuke Fukudome and Darwin Barney and hit Marlon Byrd to load the bases in the third. Aramis Ramirez delivered an RBI single and Carlos Pena followed with a two-run double to finish the Cards' starter.

Castro greeted reliever Jason Motte with an RBI single and when center fielder Colby Rasmus missed the ball, Castro sprinted to third on the two-base error. Alfonso Soriano then hit an RBI single, becoming the seventh straight Cubs batter to reach.

In 2 1-3 innings, Westbrook gave up six hits -- four after the rain delay -- and was charged with five runs.

"It just seemed like Jake didn't start out with his best stuff and he definitely didn't have it after the break," acting manager Joe Pettini said. "It's always tough for a guy to sit out for an hour and then come back. ... He just had a tough outing."

Chicago added four in the fifth, using run-scoring triples from Castro and Koyie Hill against reliever Ryan Franklin. Albert Pujols had a two-run single as the Cards scored three against Jeff Samardzija in the seventh.

St. Louis also cut down two potential runs at the plate. Rasmus made a strong throw and Gerald Laird applied the tag on Ramirez as he tried to score from second on Castro's single to center in the second. Matt Holliday's great throw from left nailed Fukudome as he attempted to score on Byrd's single in the fourth.

Notes: Pettini said he'd talked twice on Wednesday to La Russa, who was headed back to St. Louis from a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona where he was examined. La Russa and Pettini discussed the Cards' lineup. ... Cubs C Geovany Soto was placed on the DL on Wednesday after straining his groin the night before in the first inning. Soto said he did a split while catching a pitch as Holliday was batting in the opening inning. Soto will eventually got to the team's training base in Mesa, Ariz., to rehab. ... Westbrook's outing was his shortest since May 2, 2007, when he left a start with Cleveland after 1 1-3 innings with an abdominal injury. Earlier this season he went only three innings against the Nationals.


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