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Chicago at St. Louis

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Chi. Cubs (77-72) «010000020352
St. Louis (70-77)200000000240

Soriano's home run gives Cubs' Wood first win since May 2006

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Dempster got the ball again, only a few hours after his struggles made the Chicago Cubs scramble for a victory.

This time the closer shut down the St. Louis Cardinals with a perfect ninth inning in a 3-2 victory in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer in the eighth drove in the go-ahead run in the Cubs' fourth straight win, and the Cardinals' ninth straight loss.

"I had a little talk with him last night before he left the park and I said, 'Look, I have all the confidence in the world in you,"' manager Lou Piniella said. "Today wasn't a good day but tomorrow in a similar situation you're right back in there."

Kerry Wood (1-1) struck out one in a perfect seventh in relief of Ted Lilly, who worked six innings and gave up two runs and four hits. It was Wood's first victory since May 29, 2006.

"I'm so happy for him," Piniella said. "If this were a football game, we'd give him the game ball."

The third-place Cardinals dropped seven games behind the first-place Cubs in the NL Central, all but eliminating the defending World Series champions from the division race. Before the losing streak began, they were one game out of first place.

"You just can't carry it forward, otherwise it makes it hard to win the next one," manager Tony La Russa said. "There's stuff you can control through your ears.

"Every game but one of the games during the streak has been competitive, so we've done a good job of turning the page."

The Cubs began the day 1½ games in front of Milwaukee in the division.

Braden Looper threw seven dominant innings and Jim Edmonds hit a two-run double for the Cardinals, mired in their longest losing streak since a 10-game skid in 1980.

The Cubs are 10-4 against the Cardinals, including 6-1 at Busch Stadium. The game was a makeup of a postponement the day after the death of Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock on April 29, and drew a season-best sellout crowd of 45,918, including a vociferous Cubs contingent.

Pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd drew a leadoff walk and Sam Fuld pinch-ran before Soriano hit his 26th homer into the left-field stands on a 3-2 pitch from Ryan Franklin. Soriano has two homers in the last three games, and eight in the last 18 games since returning from the 15-day disabled list for a strained right quad.

"It was a very good pitch and I think I made a very good swing," Soriano said. "That's the best swing I've made in maybe like a week."

Franklin (4-4) has lost four straight decisions after a 4-0 start, and has given up a two-run homer and taken the loss in two of his last three outings.

"There's no trying to figure out anything," Franklin said. "It's just a mistake and he's a good enough hitter, and he just hit it."

Dempster allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning while pitching with a four-run ninth-inning lead on Friday, but was buoyed by the conversation with Piniella. The save was his 27th in 30 chances.

"He just told me 'You're in there tomorrow,"' Dempster said. "I expected that but it's nice to hear.

"You realize if you don't get it done, the next day you just come out and give your best effort."

Looper, a major league-leading 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in day games, allowed three hits and a run with five strikeouts and two walks. He's 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA against the Cubs, three of four starts against Chicago coming in day games.

Looper retired 18 of his last 19 hitters after Geovany Soto's double in the first, a stretch interrupted only by Soriano's two-out single in the fifth.

Edmonds, who entered the game batting .195 off left-handers, hit a two-run double off the right-field wall in the first to put the Cardinals ahead. Lilly retired the first two batters before Albert Pujols singled and Ryan Ludwick walked ahead of Edmonds.

The Cubs cut the gap to a run in the second when Mark DeRosa drew a leadoff walk, went to third on Soto's double and scored on Mike Fontenot's sacrifice fly.

Soriano dropped a fly ball from Edmonds in the sixth inning for a two-base error, but the Cardinals didn't score.

Notes

  • Cardinals SS David Eckstein (sore back) missed his second straight start and La Russa said he wouldn't be in the lineup for the second game, either.
  • Franklin has four of St. Louis' nine bullpen losses.
  • The Cubs are 62-49 against right-handed starter and 15-22 against left-handers.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Alfonso Soriano watches with confidence as his two-run shot out of the park gives the Cubs the win. (AP)
Alfonso Soriano watches with confidence as his two-run shot out of the park gives the Cubs the win. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

A. Soriano
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
St. Louis

J. Edmonds
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF4122011 .289
Ryan Theriot, SS4000001 .268
Derrek Lee, 1B4010000 .310
Daryle Ward, RF3000110 .337
    Felix Pie, CF0000000 .216
Jacque Jones, CF-RF4010002 .274
Mark DeRosa, 3B3100110 .286
Geovany Soto, C4010020 .333
Mike Fontenot, 2B2001000 .288
Ted Lilly, P2000011 .143
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
   a- Cliff Floyd, PH0000100 .291
    Sam Fuld, PR0100000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
Totals3035336  
a-walked for Wood in the 8th
Batting
2B - Geovany Soto (2, Looper)
HR - Alfonso Soriano (26, Franklin)
SF - Mike Fontenot (3)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano 2 (56), Mike Fontenot (29)
CS - Jacque Jones (3, 2nd base by Springer/Molina)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Derrek Lee (5, Misplayed grounder), Alfonso Soriano (6, Dropped fly)
Chicago Cubs
Ted Lilly 6422240 3.82
Kerry Wood (W,1-1) 1000010 4.86
Carlos Marmol (H,17) 1000110 1.29
Ryan Dempster (S,27) 1000020 4.15
Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 107-66, Kerry Wood 16-12, Carlos Marmol 12-6, Ryan Dempster 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 8-8
Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 26, Kerry Wood 3, Carlos Marmol 4, Ryan Dempster 3
St. Louis Cardinals
Aaron Miles, 2B4000021 .297
So Taguchi, LF4000000 .292
Albert Pujols, 1B3110100 .321
Ryan Ludwick, RF2100111 .253
   a- Rick Ankiel, PH-RF1000010 .282
Jim Edmonds, CF3012100 .251
Yadier Molina, C3010012 .278
Miguel Cairo, 3B3000002 .229
   b- Russell Branyan, PH1000010 .195
Braden Looper, P2010011 .204
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .500
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
   c- Skip Schumaker, PH1000000 .294
Brendan Ryan, SS3000003 .311
   d- Chris Duncan, PH1000010 .259
Totals3124238  
a-struck out for Ludwick in the 8th
b-struck out for Cairo in the 9th
c-lined out for Springer in the 9th
d-struck out for Ryan in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jim Edmonds (15, Lilly)
SH - Yadier Molina (2), Braden Looper (5)
RBI - Jim Edmonds 2 (48)
2-OUT RBI - Jim Edmonds 2 (20)
SB - Miguel Cairo (9, 3rd base off Lilly/Soto)
Team LOB - 7
St. Louis Cardinals
Braden Looper 7311250 4.55
Ryan Franklin (BS,5; L,4-4) 1122101 2.55
Randy Flores0100000 4.65
Russ Springer 1000010 2.26
Pitches-Strikes - Braden Looper 114-65, Ryan Franklin 20-11, Randy Flores 2-2, Russ Springer 11-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Braden Looper 6-10, Ryan Franklin 3-0
Batters Faced - Braden Looper 26, Ryan Franklin 5, Randy Flores 1, Russ Springer 2
Game Information
Attendance - 45918
Game Time - 2:47
Temperature - 58
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Adam Dowdy, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Tim McClelland