ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs find themselves in an unwelcome role.
"There's no quit," pitcher Matt Garza said of his teammates after the Cardinals roughed up he and the Cubs in a 9-2 loss Friday night. "You just keep fighting and keep getting better. We might as well be spoilers and ruin it for some people."
David Freese belted a three-run homer off Garza and Albert Pujols notched his 2,000th career hit -- an RBI double in the eighth -- to give Edwin Jackson (8-7) the win in his first start for the Cardinals since he was acquired Wednesday. It was Chicago's fourth straight loss.
Garza went 0-for-July, finishing the month 0-2 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts, including four quality starts. Friday was not one of those, as he was charged with six runs on eight hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings.
"I'm just going to keep going," Garza said. "Just keep going, keep going, keep going. No other way to do it."
The right-hander, now 4-8, began the night as the only pitcher in baseball this month to post a sub 3.00 ERA with at least four starts and not have a win to show for it. Overall, he's left six starts with a lead, only to not record a decision. This is the first time he's gone winless in a month since August 2009, when he was 0-1 in five starts with the Rays.
"It's one of those things, it's luck, whatever you want to call it," Garza said of the month. "It's happened more than once, so I don't think it's luck any more. I just keep going."
"We haven't given [Garza] run support, and it's been so difficult for us to score runs, especially lately, that it's tough," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He threw the ball well enough to win a game if you could score a run for him."
With the team scuffling on offense, any mistakes are magnified. Friday had a few. Geovany Soto was thrown out at third as he made a late sprint trying to advance on Tyler Colvin's sacrifice fly in the second.
"He was too cautious and then he hesitated and decided to take a shot," Quade said of Soto. "He doesn't run very well, but he usually makes good decisions on the bases."
In the seventh, Colvin was thrown out at home as he tried to score on pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt's single.
"Aggressive and probably a little over-aggressive given the situation," Quade said of Colvin's play. "The situation overrules taking a shot sometimes."
Said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa: "We really had a great defensive game. ... That score is very misleading. It was a lot closer game than that. And if either one of those plays had not happened, you can imagine how tense it would have been."
A third Cubs miscue came in the eighth, when Soto's throw to second on a stolen base bounced into center field, allowing a run to score from third.
"We put ourselves in a better position if we're closer in the game," Quade said. "The total package wasn't good."
The Cubs did strike first, loading the bases in the second as Marlon Byrd doubled, Soto was hit by a pitch and Alfonso Soriano singled. Colvin then hit a sacrifice fly.
Pujols doubled to lead off the Cardinals' fourth for career hit No. 1,999 and moved up on Matt Holliday's single, and both scored on Freese's sixth home run off the first pitch from Garza.
"One pitch, that's all it was," Garza said. "He guessed right. Tip your cap, he guessed right. Chalk it up as one of those days and get ready for the next one in five days."
Yadier Molina added an RBI single in the sixth. St. Louis then loaded the bases, and pinch-hitter and former Cubs infielder Ryan Theriot lined a double down the left-field line past third baseman Aramis Ramirez to open a 6-1 lead.
Byrd smacked a ground-rule RBI double in the eighth off Kyle McClellan, but the Cardinals struck back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning off Carlos Marmol, who had not pitched since Sunday. One of those runs came on Pujols' 2,000th hit.
The last time the Cubs faced the St. Louis slugger was at Busch Stadium from June 2-4, and Pujols hit two walk-off homers in the latter two games of that series.
"I think the place would've gone nuts if we put [Pujols] on there," Quade said. "For all it's worth, you have one of your better guys out there against him. If he's going to do that, it's going to be against Marmol. I thought it was a hell of a challenge. Unfortunately, 'Marm' didn't win."
Neither did the Cubs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.