CHICAGO – Justin Germano hopes a strong finish can earn him the chance to pitch for the Cubs next season.
“I know the opportunity (for 2013) is there, but I’ve got to worry about what I’m doing now,” Germano said after the Cubs’ 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. “I’ve had a couple starts where things didn’t really go my way and I got into a rough patch.”
Kyle Lohse and the short-handed Cardinals won for the sixth time in seven games, holding their lead in the NL wild-card race.
Minus All-Stars Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran from the starting lineup, the Cardinals stayed 2½ games ahead of Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot.
Germano (2-9) worked 52⁄3 innings, giving up four earned runs and 10 hits. Acquired from Boston on July 17 for cash considerations, he’s lost seven straight decisions.
“(But) I’ve had a pretty good year all around,” the 29-year-old pitcher said. “I just had four rough starts that I had back-to-back-to-back-to-back and I don’t want my season to end on that.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Germano’s losses don’t tell the whole story.
“He does things like today, he keeps you in a game, goes six innings and has a breaking ball and tricks up his sleeve to get through a game,” Sveum said. “He’s done a nice job for us and keeping the game within grasp.”
Lohse (16-3) made his team-leading 32nd start, giving up three runs and five hits in six innings.
“I made a couple mistakes the inning they scored two runs, but it was a pretty solid outing,” Lohse said. “I felt I could have executed better to Soriano, obviously, but other than that, I pitched around some things happening. Bottom line is we came out with a win.”
Jason Motte earned his sixth save in the Cardinals’ last seven games, and now has 40 saves this season.
Molina did not play for the defending World Series champions because of lower back spasms, having hurt himself while getting out of the way of a pitch Saturday. The catcher was feeling better, manager Mike Matheny said, still had some discomfort.
Beltran did not start because of what Matheny believed to be food poisoning. The outfielder had a pinch-hit RBI single during a two-run eighth.
Allen Craig got three hits and drove in two runs for St. Louis.
Shortstop Pete Kozma, called up by the Cardinals in late August, hit his first major league homer, a solo drive in the sixth. He also had a sacrifice fly.
A Cardinals fan caught Kozma’s homer in the left field bleachers, had his young son throw back a decoy ball and then delivered the keepsake to Kozma after the game.
Alfonso Soriano hit his 31st homer for the Cubs, giving him a career-high 105 RBIs.
“He just keeps going, he’s had to play a lot of games this year with very few days off,” Sveum said. “He’s done one heck of a job — left field, at the plate and everything about this season has been one of his best.”
Craig hit a two-run double with two outs in the third and David Freese had an RBI single. St. Louis would have had the bases loaded for Craig, but a baserunning mistake found both Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday on third base and Carpenter was tagged out.
Chicago got two runs back in the fourth on Welington Castillo’s RBI double and a wild pitch.
NOTES: The Cubs saluted retired pitcher Kerry Wood in pregame ceremonies. Wood, a 12-year Cubs veteran and 1998 NL Rookie of the Year, retired in May with the third-most strikeouts in team history (1,470). “I was fortunate to call Wrigley Field my home,” he said. “A lot of great memories and a lot of great moments.” . ... The Cardinals head to Houston, where Lance Lynn (16-7, 3.79) will take the mound opposite Fernando Abad (0-5, 5.11) on Monday. ... Chris Rusin (1-2, 6.00) pitches the series opener for the Cubs in Colorado on Monday against the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 12.27). ... Outfielder Matt Holliday left in the ninth inning when his back tightened up. Holliday said it’s something he’s dealt with a couple times this season, noting it’s not as bad as previous instances.