Cards Avoid Sweep, Back in First

CHICAGO (AP) - Felipe Lopez hit a tie-breaking solo homer in the

11th inning to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs

4-3 on Sunday night and avoid a weekend sweep.

Lopez drove a 3-2 pitch from Brian Schlitter (0-1) over the

right-field wall for his sixth homer of the season to put the

Cardinals back in the NL Central lead, a half game ahead of


The big hit came one day after Lopez was scratched from the

starting lineup for reportedly arriving late to the ballpark. It

also made a winner of closer Ryan Franklin (5-1), who pitched two


The Cubs had one last chance, but Dennys Reyes struck out Kosuke

Fukudome with the tying run on second for his first save, pumping

his left fist as a wild game came to an end.

Chicago scored two off Chris Carpenter in the fifth to take a

3-2 lead when Albert Pujols led off the sixth against Ryan Dempster

with his 23rd homer. He barely missed a two-run shot in the seventh

with a fly to the left-field warning track after Ryan Ludwick

singled with two out.

Carpenter and Dempster each gave up three runs and nine hits

over seven shaky innings, and both teams wasted big opportunities

late in the game.

The biggest chances for both came in the 10th. The Cardinals got

one-out singles by Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Skip Schumaker - his

fourth hit - against Schlitter before Yadier Molina grounded into a

double play to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Fukudome led off with a single to right

against Franklin and got forced on Tyler Colvin's bouncer to the

mound. Cubs fans booed, thinking the throw to second pulled

shortstop Brendan Ryan off the bag, and manager Lou Piniella came

out for a mild argument.

Colvin then stole second and dove back to the base, barely

beating the tag after the throw bounced toward center. Starlin

Castro got hit in the left side, and after Derrek Lee popped out,

and Aramis Ramirez drove a hard one-hopper that Schumaker booted

for an error.

That loaded the bases for Marlon Byrd, who struck out looking at

a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

NOTES: Holliday has a 10-game hitting streak. The nine hits

allowed tied a season-high for Dempster. ... Bobby Valentine would

like to manager the Cubs. The ESPN analyst and former New York Mets

and Texas Rangers manager said he's interested in taking over for

the retiring Lou Piniella after this season. Valentine, who led the

Mets to the pennant in 2000 and managed the Texas Rangers, called

the Cubs job "one of the most coveted positions in all of sports"

and added "anybody who thinks of himself as a manager would love

to be considered as one of the people who might take his place."

... Carlos Zambrano will likely make one more appearance with

Triple-A Iowa before rejoining the Chicago Cubs next weekend.

Manager Lou Piniella said he'll probably return during their series

at Colorado.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)