Life Without Lee: Take One

It didn't take long for the Cubs to feel the absence of star first baseman Derrek Lee, or to quickly realize that the new Busch Stadium was seemingly nothing more than a very early but undeniable continuation of its nagging, miserable old self on Friday night.

St. Louis jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Cubs and starter Jerome Williams barely had time to soak in the new stadium's glamour.

Williams (0-2) gave up seven runs in the first two innings and left after recording just four outs in a 9-3 pounding. He served up Albert Pujols' major league leading 11th home run, a two-run shot three batters into the home half of the first inning.

Starting at first in Lee's absence, Todd Walker was hitless in three at-bats and failed to hit the ball out of the infield. By contrast, Pujols finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs.

The lone bright spot was Michael Barrett, who continued his hot start to the season with a three-run homer and finished a triple shy of the cycle to pace an otherwise anemic offense against winning pitcher Mark Mulder. The Cubs scratched out seven hits and fell to 9-6.

For the most part, the bullpen did a commendable job of keeping the opponents off the scoreboard in the final six-plus innings despite right-hander David Aardsma allowing two runs for the second straight appearance since being promoted from AAA-Iowa. The bullpen entered the night 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA (third in the majors) and 35 hits allowed.

Overall, the game was a genuine laugher with things apparently so uninteresting to the WGN production crew that an overplayed spat between two Cardinal little leaguers on the field seemed to headline the night.

As for the Redbirds new castle, the Cubs got off to a start resemblant to much of there 40-year history at the old Busch Stadium. They were 141-190 at old Busch and 203-288-4 at the Busch Stadium prior to that from 1920-65.

Entering the night, the Cubs had won four straight against the Cardinals dating back to last season. They haven't won five consecutive against St. Louis since 1995-96.

Game two of the three-game series is set for Saturday at 1:15 p.m. CDT. Glendon Rusch is scheduled to face Sidney Ponson. The game can be seen on Comcast Sports in Chicago.

Information from the Cubs Media Relations Office was used in this report.

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