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Sweep me in St. Louis: Cards roll past Cubs

ST. LOUIS -- After weathering two hours and 29 minutes' worth of rain delays, the Cardinals ran their winning streak to six by finishing off a three-game sweep of the Cubs with a 4-1 win at Busch Stadium on Sunday night. The Cubs, who fell 11 1/2 games behind the National League Central leaders, have dropped five straight.

"The division games, obviously when the outcome is a win, you can put more distance between you [and a division opponent]," Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward said. "We had a great environment to play in tonight. Obviously, when it's Cardinals-Cubs, it's a lot of fun. The fans here at Busch always stick around."

Severe storms, which produced tornado warnings in nearby areas, paused the scoreless game after the top of the second. Both Cubs starter Jason Hammel and Cards starter Carlos Martinez returned after the one-hour, 43-minute delay. And each gave up a run in their first inning back on the mound.

But Martinez was then able to settle in, while Hammel wasn't. The Cardinals knocked Hammel out in the fifth en route to scoring four times with the aid of six doubles during the righty's outing. Martinez did not allow a hit over his final three frames, while the Cardinals' bullpen followed with three scoreless innings.

Double trouble: The Cardinals clubbed a half-dozen doubles before the end of the sixth, marking the first time since April 30, 2014, that the offense had tallied at least six doubles in a home game. A two-out double by Yadier Molina sparked the Cardinals' rally in the second. A trio of doubles in the fourth inning then helped the Cardinals build a two-run lead.

"It's hard to beat a team when you have guys trading places at second base all night long," Hammel said. More >

Video: [email protected]: Heyward doubles in Peralta for a 2-1 lead

Martinez masterful: Despite waiting nearly two hours between throwing his final pitch of the second inning and first one in the third, Martinez provided the Cardinals with another quality start. He became the team's second nine-game winner while limiting the Cubs to one run on two hits over six innings. Martinez maneuvered around a leadoff double in the second and a Xavier Scruggs error in the fifth to limit the damage.

"When I got back from the rain, I was weary on the mound for all the time I waited," Martinez said through a translator. "But after that [first inning], I was comfortable and figured out how to a good job." More >

Video: [email protected]: Martinez withstands two delays, earns win

Hammel time: Hammel retired the side in order on 11 pitches in the first, but his turn in the second was interrupted the game's second rain delay. When he returned, he got the first two batters out, but then Molina doubled and scored on Scruggs' single. Hammel needed 20 pitches to get through the fourth. But after a leadoff double by Kolten Wong in the fifth, the right-hander was pulled. This matched his shortest outing of the season -- four innings June 18 vs. the Indians -- and that was abbreviated because of rain.

"The difference was I was dotting before [the delay], and I couldn't get the ball at the knees after that," Hammel said. "It was either a strikeout or a double. Missing with teams like this, gap-to-gap guys, they put good swings on the ball." More >

Video: [email protected]: Hammel strikes out Martinez to end the 4th

"This is awesome. It's everything you dream of just being a part of the best team in baseball, and to play a little part is great for me. I'm just having fun with it." -- Scruggs, on contributing an RBI single as the Cardinals improved their home record to 29-7.

Video: [email protected]: Scruggs opens the scoring with an RBI single

"They kept us in check offensively, which they've done to a lot of different teams. We have to get back our offensive mojo." -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Martinez and Michael Wacha have become the first teammates aged 23 or younger to secure at least nine wins in the team's first 75 games since Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez did so with the Mets in 1986.

Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez was activated from the disabled list and pitched in the seventh inning, his first game action since April 15. Ramirez struck out two of the three batters he faced. He'd been sidelined with inflammation in his right shoulder. The Cubs put Tsuyoshi Wada (shoulder) on the DL, retroactive to June 23.

Cubs: After an off-day Monday, Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs' series against the Mets on Tuesday in New York. Hendricks is 0-2 in his last three starts, and has a 5.88 ERA in his five starts in June. The right-hander did well at Citi Field last Aug. 18, holding the Mets to one run on three hits over seven innings. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.

Cardinals: After an off-day on Monday, the Cardinals will open a two-game Interleague series against the White Sox with a 7:15 p.m. CT game at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. With the Cards needing to skip Jaime Garcia's spot in the rotation, Lance Lynn will draw the starting assignment on regular rest.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
Read More: Jason Heyward, Jason Hammel, Xavier Scruggs, Carlos Martinez, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter