CHICAGO — The hits came one after another for the Chicago Cubs, a seemingly endless barrage that defied logic.
There was the catcher beating out an infield single. A screamer that glanced off the pitcher's glove. A three-run homer by Moises Alou so long the St. Louis Cardinals didn't even bother to chase it.
By the time the fourth-inning frenzy was over Thursday afternoon, the Cubs had nine straight hits and 11 overall, and were well on their way to a 12-3 rout of the Cardinals.
"You see everybody else getting hits and home runs, and you want to join in on the fun," said Derrek Lee, who hit a two-run homer during the 10-run spurt and had another RBI.
The 11 hits in the fourth inning tied the club's modern record for hits in a single inning, and the nine straight was one shy of the major-league mark. All but two of the hits came with two outs.
"They had an edge because we had a starting pitcher go down, and they took advantage," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Did they ever. The Cubs finished with 15 hits. Todd Walker hit a solo homer, Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs and Carlos Zambrano held the Cardinals to five hits to give the Cubs a split of the four-game series.
It was a tough return to the majors for Dan Haren, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis because Jason Marquis missed his scheduled start due to back spasms.
Haren (0-1) allowed 10 hits and 10 runs in 3 2-3 innings.
"I liked my stuff, I just couldn't get anything to work," Haren said. "I just lost my focus that one inning. I couldn't put the guys away when I needed."
Umpires had planned to keep a careful eye on this game after the Cubs and Cardinals renewed their old hostilities Wednesday. Matt Morris nearly beaned Lee with a fastball, prompting both benches to clear. No punches were thrown, but it took about five minutes to restore order.
The Cubs still got their revenge Thursday, but they did it in a far more satisfactory fashion with their huge fourth inning.
"Emotional, physical, it doesn't matter," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "As long as we get the win."
Ramirez and Todd Hollandsworth led off the fourth with singles, and Lee followed with an RBI groundout. Corey Patterson drew a walk before he was caught stealing, and it looked as if Haren might get out of the jam.
Not even close. The Cubs ran off nine straight hits before Ramon Martinez grounded out to end the inning.
"There was no doubt about it, hitting's contagious," Walker said. "You don't want it to end. Everybody goes to the plate wanting to keep it going."
When the inning finally ended, the Cubs had 10 runs and 11 hits, all but three of them singles. Every player had at least one hit, and Ramirez and Hollandsworth had two.
The Cubs also had 11 hits in an inning on Aug. 25, 1922, against Philadelphia, also in the fourth inning.
The Cardinals had their chances to end the outburst earlier. Michael Barrett singled to short, but a bad hop left Edgar Renteria without a play at second and Barrett beat the throw to first. Alou then hit his three-run homer, a shot so far that after taking a few steps, Marlon Anderson stopped and simply watched as the ball cleared the left-field fence.
"(Barrett's hit) was a big play," La Russa said. "That play has got to be made. I'm not sure how it would turn out, but a lot of bad stuff happened after that."
Hollandsworth's second hit was up the middle, but Haren couldn't get his glove on it. That kept the inning alive for Lee, who responded with a two-run homer.
Lost in all the scoring was another solid outing by Zambrano (7-2), who didn't allow a hit until John Mabry's two-run homer in the fifth. The game was so far out of reach by that time that it hardly mattered, though.
Zambrano allowed two runs in eight innings, striking out seven to win his third straight decision.
"You certainly don't want to lose three of four to the Cardinals at home," Walker said. "We feel a lot better today after the game than we did yesterday."
Notes: Zambrano's victory was his first over the Cardinals in eight career games. ... Chicago's all-time record for hits in an inning is 18, accomplished on Sept. 6, 1883, against the Detroit Wolverines. ... Chicago's 10-run inning was its first since Aug. 29, 2002, at Milwaukee.