St. Louis at Chicago

St. Louis
Chi. Cubs
W: R. Dempster (17-6) L: B. Looper (12-14)
HR: STL - None   CHC - None

Cubs one win shy of securing home-field advantage in NL playoffs wire reports

CHICAGO -- A day after the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central, Ryan Dempster was surrounded by reserves when he took the mound for the regular-season home finale at Wrigley Field.

And that made his team-best 17th victory even more enjoyable after the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 Sunday.

"It's fun to see some guys who haven't had a chance to play a lot do some things. Get some first hits and come up with some RBIs," Dempster said.

Manager Lou Piniella used only one regular in his lineup Sunday but promises to go back to his starters in the final week because the Cubs are playing two wild card contenders, the Mets and Brewers.

Either way, Dempster says, the Cubs aren't going to relax. And they're still closing in on home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

"We want to win every game we can. I think going into the playoffs, you want to have some kind of mojo going," Dempster said. "You want to be playing good baseball and you don't want to let up. Today was a nice off day for a lot of guys, but at the same time, we'll be back at them tomorrow."

Dempster (17-6) worked five innings, giving up six hits and a run. The only regular in the lineup was slumping Kosuke Fukudome, who hit leadoff so he could get more at-bats and try to get out of his funk -- he had two hits and also made a strong throw from right field to cut down a run.

Chicago's Casey McGehee got his first major league hit and had two RBI off St. Louis starter Braden Looper (12-14). The Cardinals started the day six games back in the NL wild card race.

The Cubs (94-60) are one win away from securing home field advantage in the NL. And that could mean a great deal since they were 55-26 at Wrigley Field this season.

"It was important to win today's ball game in that we get one step closer to home field advantage," Piniella said.

"The kids produced and swung the bats and we had some athleticism on the field."

McGehee had an infield roller for his first big league hit and added a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.

"Pretty cool. I wasn't really sure how it was going to go," said McGehee after his first major league start. "I'm sure when they bought their tickets (they didn't) come thinking they were going to watch us play. ... I was just trying to make sure that we gave a good effort to try and get Dempster another win."

Looper said it was strange facing the Cubs without their big stars.

"It's not tougher in the sense that Derrek Lee and those guys aren't in the lineup," Looper said. "It's not easier or harder, just different."

Chicago broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth when Felix Pie tripled and scored on McGehee's sacrifice fly to center by just beating Skip Schumaker's strong throw to catcher Jason LaRue, who blocked the plate. When home plate umpire Chad Fairchild ruled Pie safe -- replays were inconclusive -- it brought an argument from both LaRue and Cards' manager Tony La Russa.

"It just looked to me that the way LaRue was set up he had the plate blocked," La Russa said. "I don't know how (Pie) he got to it. ... So that was one play, but they beat us 5-1."

Fukudome's strong throw to catcher Koyie Hill got Cesar Izturis at the plate in the top of the fifth. Izturis singled, stole second and tried to score standing up on Schumaker's single but was tagged out.

The Cardinals scored in the first when Schumaker singled, Ryan Ludwick followed with a double and Albert Pujols hit a sacrifice fly to deep center.

Chicago tied it in the third on back-to-back singles by Fukudome and Ronny Cedeno and an error on St. Louis second baseman Felipe Lopez, who threw wide to second trying to start a double play.

Four Cubs relievers combined to allow just one hit over the final four innings.


  • Piniella said he wouldn't set his playoff rotation until the Cubs find out who they will be playing.
  • Dempster threw 67 pitches. He finished the regular season 14-3 at Wrigley Field, the most home wins by a Cubs pitcher since Fergie Jenkins set the club record with 15 in 1967.
  • Chicago reliever Chad Gaudin, who hadn't pitched since Aug. 29 because of a sore back and wasn't with the team for the clincher Saturday, worked the seventh inning.
  • Looper surrendered nine hits and four runs in six innings.
Copyright 2017 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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Ryan Dempster gives up a run in five innings for his 17th win in the Cubs' regular-season home finale.  (AP)
Ryan Dempster gives up a run in five innings for his 17th win in the Cubs' regular-season home finale. (AP)

Players of the Game

F. Pie
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0
St. Louis

S. Schumaker
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0

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St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, CF4130001 .304
Ryan Ludwick, RF3010121 .294
    Brian Barton, PR-RF0000000 .284
Albert Pujols, 1B3001002 .349
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Felipe Lopez, 2B-3B4010011 .264
Troy Glaus, 3B2000101 .266
    Kyle McClellan, P0000000 .000
    Josh Phelps, 1B1000001 .269
Nick Stavinoha, LF4010012 .200
Jason LaRue, C2000101 .228
   a- Adam Kennedy, PH1000011 .269
Braden Looper, P2000001 .233
   b- Aaron Miles, PH-2B1000002 .311
Cesar Izturis, SS3010002 .250
a-struck out for LaRue in the 9th
b-flied out for Looper in the 7th
2B - Ryan Ludwick (39, Dempster), Felipe Lopez (25, Howry)
SF - Albert Pujols (7)
RBI - Albert Pujols (106)
SB - Cesar Izturis (21, 2nd base off Dempster/Hill)
Team LOB - 6
Outfield Assists - Ryan Ludwick 1
DP - Miles-Izturis-Pujols
E - Felipe Lopez (14, Throwing)
St. Louis Cardinals
Braden Looper (L,12-14) 6944160 4.13
Kyle McClellan 1111100 4.04
Jason Motte 1000030 0.00
WP - Braden Looper (3), Kyle McClellan (6)
Pitches-Strikes - Braden Looper 102-64, Kyle McClellan 16-7, Jason Motte 19-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Braden Looper 7-5, Kyle McClellan 1-1
Batters Faced - Braden Looper 28, Kyle McClellan 4, Jason Motte 3
Chicago Cubs
Kosuke Fukudome, RF4120001 .260
Ronny Cedeno, SS4120011 .284
Micah Hoffpauir, LF3011111 .315
Daryle Ward, 1B4000015 .223
Mike Fontenot, 2B3110102 .288
Felix Pie, CF4220020 .243
Casey McGehee, 3B3022010 .222
Koyie Hill, C3000021 .200
Ryan Dempster, P2000010 .167
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
   a- Jim Edmonds, PH0001000 .236
    Chad Gaudin, P0000000 .000
    Randy Wells, P0000000 .000
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
a-hit a sacrifice fly (foul territory) for Samardzija in the 6th
2B - Kosuke Fukudome (24, Looper), Ronny Cedeno (11, McClellan), Micah Hoffpauir (7, Looper)
3B - Felix Pie (1, Looper)
SF - Casey McGehee (1), Jim Edmonds (3)
SH - Koyie Hill (1)
RBI - Micah Hoffpauir (3), Casey McGehee 2 (4), Jim Edmonds (54)
Team LOB - 6
Outfield Assists - Kosuke Fukudome 1
DP - Dempster-Cedeno-Ward, McGehee-Fontenot-Ward
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster (W,17-6) 5611010 2.99
Jeff Samardzija (H,3) 1000020 2.16
Chad Gaudin (H,3) 1000210 3.83
Randy Wells 1000100 0.00
Bob Howry 1100010 5.27
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 67-47, Jeff Samardzija 10-9, Chad Gaudin 20-9, Randy Wells 13-5, Bob Howry 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 6-6, Jeff Samardzija 1-0, Chad Gaudin 1-1, Randy Wells 1-1, Bob Howry 1-1
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 19, Jeff Samardzija 3, Chad Gaudin 5, Randy Wells 3, Bob Howry 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40551
Game Time - 2:26
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Jeff Kellogg