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Coleman shines as Cubs spoil Cards' fun

Coleman shines as Cubs spoil Cards' fun

CHICAGO -- Casey Coleman made quite an impression on Saturday.

In his seventh big league start, Coleman outlasted Chris Carpenter in the Cubs' 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. Blake DeWitt hit a two-run triple, Sam Fuld smacked a two-run single and Aramis Ramirez drove in two runs for Chicago, now 19-10 since Mike Quade took over as manager on Aug. 23.

"Guys are playing hard, the veterans are hanging in there and still going about their business well," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "I'm real happy with some of the young pitchers who have gotten over the hump. I think they'll all benefit from the experience."

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Coleman (3-2) is in that group. The right-hander gave his father and grandfather, who both pitched in the big leagues, something to brag about Saturday. The rookie gave up three runs, five hits and struck out four over seven innings in his longest big league start.

He credited Cubs catcher Koyie Hill and pitching coach Larry Rothschild with settling him down after the Cardinals scored early.

"I'm sure he'd like to be lights-out from start to finish," Quade said of the young right-hander. "He makes adjustments on the fly by himself. Larry doesn't need to be out there. You'd like to see that from anybody, but for a young pitcher, that's huge."

Facing Triple-A hitters is one thing. Facing Albert Pujols is another.

"It's always fun to face those guys," Coleman said. "[Pujols] is the best hitter in the game, and once you face him, you can face anyone. He is intimidating but he's human, so you just have to make pitches. He got me in the one inning, and I said, 'Just attack. Don't pitch around him, don't pitch scared, and hopefully they'll make a play for you.'"

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the second on Bryan Anderson's sacrifice fly and took advantage of an error in the third. With one out, Jon Jay singled and scored on Pujols' double, his 113th RBI. Matt Holliday was safe on an errant throw by Ramirez, which allowed Pujols to score to make it 3-0.

The Cubs, who had struggled to score three runs in their past four games, answered in their half. With one out, DeWitt doubled and moved up on a wild pitch. One out later, Kosuke Fukudome walked and Ramirez singled, scoring DeWitt. Micah Hoffpauir singled and Fukudome was caught in a rundown between third and home, but catcher Anderson's relay throw sailed over third baseman Daniel Descalso for an error.

Chris Carpenter then intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano to load the bases, and Fuld delivered a two-run single to center to go ahead, 4-3.

"Any competitor is going to take it at least slightly personal," Fuld said of the intentional pass. "Frankly, I don't blame them. It did get me going a little bit."

The Cubs are the first team to beat Carpenter (15-9) three times in a single season in his career.

"He's tough," Fuld said. "He's one of the best in the game. You can't try to do too much there. With the bases loaded, you're looking for a single."

Starlin Castro doubled with two outs in the fourth, Fukudome walked and Ramirez hit another RBI single. That was it for Carpenter.

Blake Hawksworth took over in the fifth and with one out, Fuld lined a ball off the right-hander's face. He dropped on the mound but was able to walk off under his own power. Fernando Salas took over and struck out Koyie Hill, but walked Coleman and then served up a triple to DeWitt as the Cubs went ahead, 7-3.

Quade asked the media the first question postgame, trying to get an update on Hawksworth. Fuld called the Cardinals' clubhouse to make sure the pitcher was OK. It's been a frightening week for the Cubs, who lost outfielder Tyler Colvin for the season last Sunday in Miami when he was punctured in the chest by a broken bat. Coleman said he flinched as he watched Hawksworth go down.

"I was a bit rattled when it happened," Fuld said. "It's something that's never happened to me before. Between that and the incident with Tyler, it's scary. This is a dangerous game, and people don't realize that. You try to avoid it as much as you can."

The bundled-up crowd of 39,316 at Wrigley Field pushed the home attendance to 3,024,916, the seventh straight season the Cubs have topped 3 million. They are one of five Major League franchises to surpass 3 million every year starting in 2004.

"They're the best," Quade said of the fans. "Whether they show up in droves on the road -- you go into a ballpark, and see blue everywhere -- or it's the support here, they're phenomenal."

Hendry said the team, which began the season with the highest payroll in the National League, doesn't need to overhaul the roster to get back on top of the division.

"It takes good fortune and a few solid moves and your young people to keep developing and stay healthy, and you're right back in it," Hendry said.

Among the players who have shined are rookies Coleman, Castro, Colvin, James Russell and Andrew Cashner.

"There are some positives to build around," Hendry said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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