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Cubs Breeze Past Cards, 3-0

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Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs connects on a two-run home run scoring Starlin Castro during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on August 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Getty/Brian Kersey)

Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs connects on a two-run home run scoring Starlin Castro during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on August 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty/Brian Kersey)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Garza pitched seven sharp innings, Aramis Ramirez homered and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Saturday.

Garza (6-9) scattered five hits, struck out eight and won at Wrigley Field for the first time since June 27.

Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol finished off the shutout. Marmol earned his 29th save in 37 chances.

Ramirez’s two-run homer highlighted a three-run burst in the fourth off Edwin Jackson (2-2). Jackson allowed five hits in seven innings after leaving his last start with a right hamstring cramp.

Garza had been solid at home lately with a 1.75 ERA in his previous five starts. But the Cubs had scored a total of just seven runs in those games, leaving him with an 0-2 record.

Early on, it looked as if it might be more of the same for Garza after Jackson held the Cubs hitless and faced the minimum through three innings. Things changed in the fourth as the Cubs hit for the cycle.

Starlin Castro led off with a single and Ramirez connected one out later for his 24th home run. Carlos Pena then tripled and Marlon Byrd doubled.

Ramirez’s homer was Chicago’s 29th in August, most in the majors.

The Cubs helped themselves by turning two double plays. Before the game, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said his team’s propensity for hitting into DPs as “brutal.” St. Louis has hit into 136 double plays this season, by far the most in the majors.

It was Jackson’s turn to be a hard-luck loser despite pitching effectively for the fourth time in five starts since he was traded to St. Louis. Jackson was making his first appearance in Chicago since being dealt by the crosstown White Sox on July 27.

Garza started slowly, allowing a leadoff double to John Jay in the first and later walking two batters to load the bases. He recovered to get David Freese on an inning-ending double play, the first of 10 straight batters he retired.

The attendance was announced at 42,374, up 31 from Friday’s gathering, which was the Cubs’ largest crowd since opening day in 1978.

NOTES: Cubs manager Mike Quade said he hasn’t spoken to pitcher Carlos Zambrano since he left the team’s clubhouse in during a game Atlanta on Aug. 12, but expects to at some point. Zambrano was subsequently placed on the disqualified list. The Cubs have won five of seven games since Zambrano left the team. … St. Louis OF Matt Holliday and SS Rafael Furcal were out of the lineup for what La Russa called a “mental and physical part day off.” Holliday entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. … Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan left the team and returned to St. Louis to attend to a personal matter. He is expected to rejoin the club when it returns home on Monday. Bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist will fill in for Duncan. … Ramirez’s homer was his 12th first-pitch shot this season, most in the majors. … St. Louis’ Lance Berkman, who entered August with 28 home runs, has gone homerless in 17 games so far this month. … Chicago’s Rodrigo Lopez will face St. Louis’ Jake Westbrook in Sunday’s series finale. Lopez is 4-6 with a 6.44 ERA in eight career games against St. Louis. Westbrook has a 9.72 ERA in two starts against the Cubs this season

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