Series' ending all wet
As usual for the Cubs-Cardinals series, unusual was the norm.

But this time the two old rivals spent as much time entertaining themselves as they did the customers.

Over the last three days, they spent 5 hours 25 minutes sitting in their clubhouses during rain delays and 5 hours 53 minutes clubbing on each other.

The final count in victories was: Cubs two, Cardinals one and Mother Nature one.

"We'll take two of three," Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "They aren't playing the way they'd like to, but they're still a good ballclub."

The Cardinals were good enough Monday to salvage the final game of a long and wet series 6-4 and climb within three games of the Cubs, who are now tied for first with Milwaukee.

It was a game that included the daily dose of rain—an 87-minute delay—and when the Cubs came back from the clubhouse for the final three innings, they looked water-logged.

"It's hard when your body is ready and then you get shut down and start all over again," Ramirez said.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't tough" trying to come back after a delay, Mark DeRosa said.

DeRosa played a part in making this a strange wraparound weekend. He and Daryle Ward hit back-to-back homers in the second inning, and when Derrek Lee added another in the sixth, the Cubs had scored nine of their 11 series runs with the long ball.

Not to be outdone, the Cardinals slugged six homers in the three games, all solos, with Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel supplying the power Monday.

Ted Lilly, who had won eight of his previous nine decisions, struggled from the start, giving up hits to the first two Cardinals batters and two runs in that first inning.

The Cubs also had a chance to score in the first, but leadoff hitter Ryan Theriot was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple on a strong throw by left fielder Ankiel, a converted pitcher.

"[Theriot] was aggressive," manager Lou Piniella said. "That Ankiel's an athlete. He has a good arm, accurate. I didn't think he had a chance to get him."

The Cubs did tie it in the second, thanks to Ward and DeRosa, but Lilly gave up two more in the third, then another run in the fifth. He left after six innings, charged with five runs on seven hits.

Lee pulled the Cubs to 5-4 with his 100th homer as a Cub, but the Cardinals got that back with Ankiel's homer off Carmen Pignatiello before the rain came in the seventh.

To Lilly, it didn't matter that the Cubs won two of the three played.

"I'm not happy right now," he said. "We scored enough runs for us to win that game and I'd like to take advantage of it. It's up to me and I'm the one responsible for going deep in the game."

So now the Cubs leave the rain and puddly outfield, heading west for three games each against San Francisco and Arizona, while Milwaukee plays the same two teams in reverse order.

"We definitely feel good about winning the series," Ward said. "[But] we want them all. We have a feeling we're going out and winning each game."

"Every game is huge now," DeRosa said, "especially going to the West Coast. We've got our work cut out for us."

The Cubs are 5-5 in San Francisco and 2-6 in Arizona the last three years.

"It's a tough little trip," Piniella said.

At least it shouldn't rain.

"If it does, we'll just move up to Seattle and play them in the dome," Piniella laughed.

dvandyck@tribune.com