CHICAGO — An early morning arrival from San Diego forced the Cardinals to miss some sleep, but they sure didn't look very sluggish at the plate.
"Slugging" might be a better word to describe them.
Six straight batters got hits off Chicago starter Randy Wells, and St. Louis jumped out to a big early lead that Chris Carpenter made stand up in a 7-1 rout on Friday.
"It was quick turnaround — four hours of sleep," said Ryan Ludwick, who added a two-run homer in the ninth for St. Louis. "It was just a nice inning to be able to get Carp five runs off the get-go. I don't think you could ask for a better scenario."
Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina each drove in a pair of runs, and Colby Rasmus also had an RBI for the Cardinals, who knocked Wells from the game after only 16 pitches. He allowed five runs on six hits without retiring a batter, and St. Louis sent nine to the plate.
Cubs reliever James Russell finally got out of the inning, but the damage was done.
The six consecutive hits given up by the Cubs was the most since 1975, when Philadelphia hammered starter Bill Bonham for seven straight hits without an out. The Phillies beat Chicago 13-5 in that game at Veterans Stadium.
Carpenter kept Chicago at bay when he finally took the mound, scattering seven hits over 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and one walk. The only run he allowed came on Tyler Colvin's pinch-hit homer in the fifth, the first of his career.
"I was able to make pitches when I had to make pitches, keep them off balance," Carpenter said. "It was a well-played game all around, especially with the late night that [we] had."
The victory was the second straight for St. Louis, and came in the first meeting of the season between the NL Central rivals.
The outcome of the first meeting of NL Central rivals this season wasn't in doubt after the first inning, when Felipe Lopez started the barrage against Wells. Ludwick followed with a double and Pujols drove in a pair with his single to center. Matt Holliday also singled and Rasmus made it 4-0 with his two-run single to right.
Molina capped the scoring with a two-run double, knocking Wells from the game.
"It was a tough situation coming into," said Russell, who allowed two hits while pitching a career-high four innings in relief. "All you can hope for is to go out there and put up zeros and keep the game as close as possible."
Wells has lost three of his last five starts and hasn't won a decision since April 30, but his biggest problem has been consistency, not necessarily his pitching. He was knocked out of a game May 6 at Pittsburgh when he allowed six runs in two innings, but also lasted at least eight innings in two of his last four outings.
Russell and the rest of the bullpen kept the damage from getting much worse. Bob Howry, Jeff Stevens and Carlos Zambrano combined to pitch four scoreless innings, before John Grabow allowed Ludwick's two-run homer in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Carpenter was breezing along after a shaky start.
The 2005 Cy Young winner allowed singles to the first two batters he faced, but got some help when Kosuke Fukudome was caught stealing. After issuing a walk to Aramis Ramirez, Carpenter got Alfonso Soriano to hit an inning-ending fly ball to center.
Carpenter was finally lifted in the seventh, and the bullpen took care of the rest, allowing only one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Cardinals RHP Kyle Lohse had fascial release surgery on his right forearm in Los Angeles. Lohse was being treated for exertional compartment syndrome, an uncommon, exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in legs or arms and can be difficult to identify. He will begin physical therapy in a week. A timetable for his return has not been set.