ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs were down, and Jason Marquis kept them there.
Marquis pitched into the ninth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals got solo home runs from Edgar Renteria, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Tony Womack in a 6-1 victory Friday night.
"It was a nice win, especially going into the break," Marquis said. "We're playing real good ball right now and I was hoping I could keep that going."
Greg Maddux (7-7) gave up three of the homers as the Cardinals won their ninth in a row at home, including the first seven games of a nine-game homestand
"As long as we don't get carried away," Edmonds said. "It's a humbling game, so you have to keep your head down and keep playing hard."
St. Louis leads the NL Central by seven games over the Cubs. The Cardinals are 30-8 against the Cubs at Busch Stadium since 2000.
Derrek Lee homered for the Cubs, who have scored only three runs during a four-game losing streak. They got shut out twice while being swept in Milwaukee in a series that ended Wednesday.
"They're going great," manager Dusty Baker said, "and we're not going good. Nothing lasts forever and we just have to keep swinging."
Manager Tony La Russa was ejected for the second time this season for arguing balls and strikes with umpire Derryl Cousins in the third. The opener of a three-game series drew a sellout crowd of 49,675, the largest for a regular-season game at Busch Stadium since several thousand seats were removed to make way for a manually operated scoreboard in 1997.
Marquis (9-4) faced his former mentor, Maddux, for the third time this season and beat him for the first time. He allowed a run on nine hits in eight-plus innings for his career-high ninth win, one more than his 2002 total with the Braves.
"You can't take anything away from Marquis," Baker said. "But anybody who goes out there right now looks like Cy Young against us."
Julian Tavarez got the last three outs after Marquis, bidding for his first career complete game, gave up a leadoff single to Corey Patterson.
Marquis, 6-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last seven starts, had a six-game hitting streak come to an end in an 0-for-3 day. He was 9-for-14 during the streak, the longest by a pitcher since Mike Hampton hit in eight straight for the Rockies in 2002.
Maddux lasted six innings and gave up four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. He has allowed 20 homers in 18 starts and this was the third time the Cardinals faced him this year, although La Russa didn't think that was an advantage.
"You know how many guys have seen Maddux for 15 years and he's going to get 300 wins," La Russa said. "He got a couple of balls up and the balls left the park."
Renteria hit his sixth homer with one out in the first to give the Cardinals the lead. Lee tied it with one out in the second.
The Cardinals took the lead for good when Womack singled and eventually scored on Pujols' sacrifice fly in the third. Pujols led off the sixth with his 22nd homer and with one out Edmonds hit his 19th for a 4-1 lead.
"They got me and I didn't think they were bad pitches," Maddux said. "On Pujols' pitch, I left that up, and it's not surprising he hit it out, but the other two, maybe they were thinking along with me."
Womack homered off John Leicester in the seventh, and John Mabry hit an RBI single off Kent Mercker in the eighth.
Notes: Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez (groin) missed his eighth straight game. ... The Cubs haven't had a winning record at Busch since 1995 and they're 3-5 with two games left this season, assuring them of no better than a break-even year in St. Louis. ... Scott Rolen doubled in the eighth and has hit in 10 straight games. He's 14-for-33 (.424) during the streak. ... Cardinals pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in 13 of the last 14 games. ... Edmonds was 2-for-3 against Maddux after entering the game 1-for-11. Pujols is 6-for-14 against Maddux with two homers. ... The Cardinals are a season-best 21 games over .500. They have outscored their opponents 40-11 during the homestand.