CHICAGO -- As a stand-in, Glendon Rusch put on a performance worthy of a lead role.
Filling in for injured ace Kerry Wood, Rusch pitched 7 2-3 strong innings Saturday to help the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1.
After enduring a 1-12 season with Milwaukee a year ago, signing with the Cubs on April 1 and spending the first month of this season in the minors, Rusch is appreciative of any victory. Especially in the majors.
"No doubt about it. That's something you don't forget about when you are struggling so much as a starting guy to go out and get a win," Rusch said.
"It's been a little bit of a long road, starting with what I went through last year. ... I battled a long way to get here."
In his second start since Wood came down with a sore triceps, Rusch allowed a run on six hits with nine strikeouts -- including Jim Edmonds three times.
Staked to a leadThe left-hander got a big boost from the Cubs' four-run first that included a two-run double by Derrek Lee on a fly ball that landed in the center-field ivy. Todd Hollandsworth hit a two-run homer in the third to put the Cubs ahead 6-1.
Hollandsworth is also stepping in for another of the Cubs' stars on the disabled list -- Sammy Sosa.
"I am not going to fill Sammy Sosa's shoes. That's impossible," Hollandsworth said. "He's really gifted. I'm trying to hold down the fort until he gets better, do my part."
And that's what Rusch is doing, also, making the most of spot starts until Wood and Mark Prior come off the DL.
Rusch spent most of spring training with Texas, but when the Rangers decided not to put him on their major league roster, he asked for and was granted his release.
"As soon as this became available for me to sign here, I jumped on it. It took about 10 minutes to think about it," he said.
Chicago jumped on Woody Williams (1-5) right away and got Rusch an early lead.
Todd Walker, Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez singled for the first run. After a walk to Hollandsworth loaded the bases, Lee's long, wind-aided fly to center went over Edmonds' head and stuck in the ivy for a ground-rule double.
"That ball was hit so high, it's got to be caught," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It stayed in the park. I'm not sure, I think Jim got fooled by the wind."
Corey Patterson hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
"It was definitely a crazy first inning," Williams said. "They came out swinging and before I knew it they had four runs. Pretty much that was the ballgame."
The Cardinals got a run back in the third when Patterson and Hollandsworth collided in shallow center while chasing Edgar Renteria's fly-ball double.
Hollandsworth hit his fifth homer following Ramirez's single in the bottom of the inning.
Williams unraveled in the sixth, committing two errors. His wild pickoff attempt to first allowed Patterson to reach second, then the right-hander threw wildly past first after fielding Ramon Martinez's bunt, allowing Patterson to score.
Williams gave up seven runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.