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