ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rookie third baseman D.J. LeMahieu always envisioned his first major league hit would be an important one. A game-winner maybe.
LeMahieu got his hit, but not his wish, when he had an infield single in the eighth inning of the Chicago Cubs' 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
The one-out bouncer always will stick in his memory. It was one of the few highlights for the Cubs, who lost their fourth in a row.
``It's an infield hit, but I'll take it,' LeMahieu said. ``It felt really good. And I got the ball.'
LeMahieu was called up Monday from the Cubs' Double-A affiliate in Kodak, Tenn. He was 0 for 2 in pinch-hitting duty before making his first start against St. Louis.
LeMahieu slapped a grounder up the middle that was stopped by St. Louis second baseman Tyler Greene, who was unable to throw LeMahieu out at first.
``My heart was pounding pretty good in the first inning, but after that I felt good,' LeMahieu said.
Jaime Garcia allowed one run and four hits over eight innings and Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols homered to lead St. Louis to the win.
Garcia (6-1) gave up a career-high 11 earned runs in a 15-4 loss at Colorado last Saturday, but he quickly put that disaster behind him.
``As soon as I was done pitching, I forgot about it and started to move forward,' Garcia said. ``I never really doubted myself. I know I have the stuff.'
Garcia struck out eight and walked one, improving to 4-0 with a sparkling 0.46 ERA in five home starts this season.
``Every time he needed to make a big pitch he did it,' St. Louis shortstop Ryan Theriot said. ``He was fun to watch.'
Garcia retired his first 13 batters on 46 pitches. He gave up a walk to Carlos Pena and a run-scoring double to Lou Montanez before setting down the next six batters in a row.
``He's put together a real good year,' Chicago manager Mike Quade said. ``He threw strikes and changed speeds. He's a good looking left-hander.'
Garcia has allowed just two earned runs in 39 innings at home this year.
Berkman snapped an 0-for-13 skid with his 12th homer, a drive to center on a 1-1 pitch from Ryan Dempster (4-5) in the first inning. It was Berkman's first homer since May 15 at Cincinnati and provided Garcia with all the support he would need.
``A three-run homer in the first against a real good pitcher, that puts your team in a hole,' Dempster said. ``I just didn't execute a fastball in and I paid for it.'
Berkman, like Garcia, quickly forgot about the past few games.
``It was good to finally come out and get some hits,' Berkman said. ``I kind of had a few rough games. This was a good night all around.'
Theriot got the first inning started with a double that extended his career-best hitting streak to 17 games, the longest current run in the majors. Pujols drew a walk to set the stage for Berkman's home run.
Pujols pushed the lead to 6-1 in the fifth, connecting for his 10th homer of the season and No. 100 in new Busch Stadium. He has seven homers in 49 career at_bats against Dempster.
Chicago has lost six of seven. The Cubs had won their last five games in St. Louis.
Dempster gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings. He has surrendered a team-high 13 home runs.
``They did a good job of grinding out a lot of at_bats,' Dempster said. ``I made a couple to mistakes to some pretty good hitters and they made me pay.'
NOTES: Pena has reached safely in 25 of his last 27 games. ... The Cardinals improved to 6-3 on Fridays. ... St. Louis OF Allen Craig, who flied out as a pinch hitter in the eighth, has 11 hits in his last 23 at_bats.
The Associated Press News Service
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