Warming to the task
As if anything extra was needed to heat up an old rivalry, the Cubs and Cardinals turned up the tempers Friday on a torrid afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The final toll: Both teams' third basemen hit by pitches, another hit-by-pitch that wasn't, the season's first ejection for Cubs manager Dusty Baker and an oh-for-Chicago season that must have Cardinals manager Tony La Russa steaming.

La Russa, the former Cubs player and White Sox skipper, watched his team lose for the fifth time at Wrigley Field—6-5—to go with three losses at U.S. Cellular Field.

Baker was at a loss to explain why two teams 17 games apart in the standings can have such a lopsided head-to-head record.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing," he said. "We need victories."

They got one Friday but only after a six-run fourth and after surviving a wild final three innings that made a winner of rookie Carlos Marmol (4-4) and gave Ryan Dempster his second straight save.

With the Cubs leading 6-3 in the seventh—thanks to a six-run fourth highlighted by John Mabry's two-run homer and Juan Pierre's three-run triple—things started getting rowdy. The Cardinals had two runners on base with two outs when Roberto Novoa plunked Scott Rolen in the shoulder. Juan Encarnacion followed with a two-run double and Scott Eyre was summoned to strike out Jim Edmonds.

In the bottom of the inning, with two outs and no one on, the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez took an apparent payback pitch from Braden Looper in the back. Both benches were warned against retaliation.

Matt Murton made the third out, so the Cardinals got the best of the tit-for-tat deal that comes from the La Russa/Ozzie Guillen school of managing.

"When [Looper] hit Aramis, it was kind of obvious," Baker said.

"There wasn't any pitch I thought was intentional," La Russa said. "The ball to [Rolen] hit him in the neck."

In the eighth, with the Cubs trying to score an insurance run, Ronny Cedeno was hit in the wrist during a sacrifice attempt. Home plate umpire Ed Montague called the pitch a strike. Cedeno, he said, was trying to bunt the ball and did not pull the bat back in time.

Baker's vehement argument turned into his first ejection, and though Cedeno eventually sacrificed, the Cubs didn't score.

Marmol had a strange outing, which got him pulled after 51/3 innings. He allowed only three hits but walked seven. The last Cubs starter to walk at least seven and still win was Mike Morgan in 1992.

Marmol walked .210-hitting backup catcher Gary Bennett to lead off the third and then compounded it by walking .182-hitting pitcher Jason Marquis on four pitches. With the help of a Ramirez error, the Cardinals scored two.

"Carlos was effectively wild," Baker said. "He's a survivor. He wants to stay here very badly."

dvandyck@tribune.com