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St. Louis (80-75) «4000400008122
Chi. Cubs (70-85)000023200781

Pujols smacks NL-leading 42nd HR, Cubs lose

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Albert Pujols' stellar play is not showing any signs of slowing down despite his club being on the brink of postseason elimination.

Pujols hit his league-leading 42nd home run and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Chicago Cubs 8-7 Sunday, preventing the NL Central from being clinched.

The first-place Cincinnati Reds won at San Diego and also needed a loss by the Cardinals to win the division.

More on Cardinals at Cubs

"What's to lose? We're going to go out there and continue to do what we've been doing since day one and go out there and play hard," Pujols said. "Hopefully, we'll keep putting that pressure on them that they have to win. It's not over."

Pujols hit a three-run homer and Matt Pagnozzi drove in three runs as the Cardinals took an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning. The Cubs' rally fell short, and they finished 35-46 at Wrigley Field this season.

Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (3-4) pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. He didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning, then retired only two of his next 10 batters.

Ryan Franklin got five outs for his 26th save in 28 opportunities. He retired Xavier Nady on a popup with runners on first and second in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth inning.

As Cardinals manager Tony La Russa watched his team struggle to hold off the Cubs, he was perplexed by the way his team has played against below .500 teams. St. Louis is 45-49 against losing teams this season.

"That's been ridiculous. It's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in all my years. I have no explanation, we've just had a tough time beating clubs with a losing record," La Russa said. "And I don't mean they're losers because they're playing really well now and a lot of times they're playing young guys with a lot of spark. Our record has not been very good. This club just swept us in St. Louis, so it was good to get two out of three here."

Jeff Smardzija (2-2) allowed eight runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. He also walked seven.

"It's a big challenge for Jeff to get his command where it is supposed to be," Cubs interim manager Mike Quade said. "There is a lot of good people in this organization who have been working with him. He will keep working, that's the deal. It's about command, we know his arm strength, his soft game is coming along, you have to throw strikes and quality strikes and everybody at this level does."

Pujols' homer highlighted a four-run first inning. His drive into the wind landed on Waveland Avenue, and Smardzija walked the next two batters before Pagnozzi hit an RBI single with two outs.

"They were aggressive, and I was aggressive, too," Pujols said.

St. Louis scored four more runs in the fifth. After two walks, Smardzija gave up an RBI single to Brendan Ryan and Pagnozzi followed with a two-run double.

Pinch-hitter Brad Snyder had a two-run single in the Cubs' fifth.

Kosuke Fukudome had an RBI double in the sixth and Westbrook's outing ended after walking Bobby Scales with one out. Scales later scored on pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir's two-out single.

The Cubs closed to 8-7 in the seventh, helped by center fielder Colby Rasmus' two-base error. Reliever Mitchell Boggs struck out Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo to end the inning.

Quade, who grew up in Chicago, may have managed his last game at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform as general manager Jim Hendry continues to interview candidates.

"It's been a tale of two seasons for me with the responsibility here the last few weeks," Quade said. "I've enjoyed the challenge and I was happy for the opportunity and the guys have played pretty good and that's been a lot of fun. Overall, we got to get better and we all know that. Someone asked a while back if I think we could contend. Absolutely I think we can contend. I am an optimist and there is enough pieces here. I can't go home this winter without believing that and whoever is running the show here will feel that way."

Notes

  • A CT scan on Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth was negative and he was to be released from the hospital a day after being hit in the face by a line drive. Hawksworth was hospitalized overnight after being struck by Sam Fuld's shot in the fifth inning of Saturday's game. He received about 20 stitches, but the scan showed no structural damage.
  • St. Louis went 34-47 on the road this year.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Albert Pujols hits his league-leading 42nd HR -- a three-run shot -- during the first inning against the Cubs. (US Presswire)
Albert Pujols hits his league-leading 42nd HR -- a three-run shot -- during the first inning against the Cubs. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

M. Pagnozzi
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Chicago

B. DeWitt
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 

Related Video

St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Skip Schumaker, 2B3100201 .263
   a- Aaron Miles, PH-2B1000000 .292
Allen Craig, RF5131001 .228
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Greene, 3B1010000 .219
Albert Pujols, 1B4113203 .311
Matt Holliday, LF4200212 .311
    Joe Mather, LF0000000 .204
Colby Rasmus, CF4020113 .279
Daniel Descalso, 3B2100102 .400
   b- Pedro Feliz, PH-3B2010000 .219
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .000
Brendan Ryan, SS4121114 .225
Matt Pagnozzi, C4123103 .250
Jake Westbrook, P3000014 .083
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
   c- Jon Jay, PH-RF1000100 .301
Totals388128114  
a-grounded out for Schumaker in the 9th
b-grounded out for Descalso in the 6th
c-walked for Motte in the 7th
Batting
2B - Allen Craig (5, Samardzija), Colby Rasmus (27, Maine), Matt Pagnozzi (2, Samardzija)
HR - Albert Pujols (42, Samardzija)
RBI - Allen Craig (16), Albert Pujols 3 (116), Brendan Ryan (34), Matt Pagnozzi 3 (4)
2-OUT RBI - Allen Craig (7), Matt Pagnozzi (2)
SB - Matt Holliday (9, 3rd base off Samardzija/Castillo)
CS - Brendan Ryan (4, 2nd base by Samardzija/Castillo)
Team LOB - 14
Fielding
DP - Schumaker-Ryan-Pujols
E - Colby Rasmus (4, Misplayed grounder), Brendan Ryan (17, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jake Westbrook (W,9-11) 5.1553420 4.38
Jason Motte (H,11) 0.2100010 2.32
Trever Miller (H,10) 0.2221000 4.15
Mitchell Boggs (H,6) 0.2000130 3.72
Ryan Franklin (S,26) 1.2000200 3.43
WP - Mitchell Boggs (4), Ryan Franklin (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 94-52, Jason Motte 12-7, Trever Miller 14-8, Mitchell Boggs 26-16, Ryan Franklin 31-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 11-3, Jason Motte 1-0, Trever Miller 1-1, Ryan Franklin 3-2
Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 25, Jason Motte 3, Trever Miller 4, Mitchell Boggs 4, Ryan Franklin 7
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Sam Fuld, CF3000213 .182
Starlin Castro, SS5000003 .302
Blake DeWitt, 2B4220100 .261
Xavier Nady, 1B5210002 .257
Kosuke Fukudome, RF4012010 .269
Alfonso Soriano, LF5000012 .255
Bobby Scales, 3B2210300 .222
Welington Castillo, C4111023 .313
Jeff Samardzija, P0000100 .250
    Justin Berg, P0000000 .000
   a- Brad Snyder, PH1012000 .308
    Scott Maine, P0000000 .000
   b- Micah Hoffpauir, PH1011000 .186
    Marcos Mateo, P0000000 .000
    Andrew Cashner, P0000000 .000
   c- Darwin Barney, PH1000010 .246
    James Russell, P0000000 .000
    Thomas Diamond, P0000000 .000
Totals3578676  
a-singled for Berg in the 5th
b-singled for Maine in the 6th
c-struck out for Cashner in the 8th
Batting
2B - Kosuke Fukudome (19, Westbrook), Welington Castillo (3, Westbrook)
SF - Kosuke Fukudome (4)
RBI - Kosuke Fukudome 2 (43), Welington Castillo (4), Brad Snyder 2 (4), Micah Hoffpauir (5)
2-OUT RBI - Brad Snyder 2 (4), Micah Hoffpauir (2)
SB - Bobby Scales (1, 2nd base off Westbrook/Pagnozzi)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Castro-DeWitt-Nady
E - Bobby Scales (1, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jeff Samardzija (L,2-2) 4.1788721 8.38
Justin Berg 0.2100100 5.26
Scott Maine 1100010 2.31
Marcos Mateo 1000100 6.20
Andrew Cashner 1200100 5.12
James Russell 0.2100000 5.03
Thomas Diamond 0.1000110 7.07
IBB - Pujols by Jeff Samardzija, Ryan by Andrew Cashner, Pujols by Thomas Diamond
WP - Jeff Samardzija (1), Thomas Diamond (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Samardzija 95-50, Justin Berg 18-9, Scott Maine 26-17, Marcos Mateo 21-11, Andrew Cashner 25-15, James Russell 10-7, Thomas Diamond 10-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Samardzija 2-8, Justin Berg 1-1, Scott Maine 2-1, Marcos Mateo 1-2, Andrew Cashner 1-1, James Russell 1-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Samardzija 26, Justin Berg 4, Scott Maine 5, Marcos Mateo 4, Andrew Cashner 5, James Russell 3, Thomas Diamond 2
Game Information
Attendance - 38057
Game Time - 3:30
Temperature - 56
Umpires - Home - Dan Bellino, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Joe West