Guess who? Pujols leads Cardinals past Cubs again
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Albert Pujols hit a game-ending homer in extra innings for the second straight day, beating the Chicago Cubs with a leadoff shot in the 10th inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' 3-2 victory on Sunday.
Pujols hammered a 2-1 belt-high fastball from Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) an estimated 446 feet to left for his 10th career game-ending homer. His fifth during a seven-game homestand and No. 13 for the season gave the Cardinals a three-game sweep over the scuffling Cubs, who have lost nine of 11.
The Cardinals were down to their last strike before Ryan Theriot tied it with an RBI double off Carlos Marmol, driving in pinch-runner Tony Cruz from first. Theriot extended his hitting streak to 19 games, the Cardinals' longest since Pujols hit in 30 straight in 2009.
Marmol has two blown save opportunities in his last three appearances and is 10 for 14 overall. He had worked a franchise-record 26 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road before Theriot doubled down the left-field line on a 2-2 pitch.
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano pitched seven crisp innings, yielding one run and five hits. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 13 career starts in St. Louis.
Aramis Ramirez returned from a two-game absence with a two-run double in the fourth for the lone damage against hard-luck Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.
Pujols homered twice on Saturday, with his drive off Jeff Samardzija sending the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory in 12 innings. Pujols also had an infield hit in the sixth Sunday and scored on Allen Craig's base hit.
Fernando Salas (3-0) worked a perfect 10th against the top of the Cubs' order to get the win.
Carpenter pitched nine innings, surrendering seven hits and two walks. He finished strong, retiring eight of the last nine batters with the lone baserunner coming on a walk.
The 36-year-old right-hander has won at least 15 games in all of his healthy seasons since 2004, but remained stuck on his lone win May 10 against the Cubs.
Ramirez was back in the fifth slot after recovering from a lacerated lip sustained when he got hit in the face by the ball making a diving attempt on a grounder. Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro singled to begin the fourth and both scored when Ramirez lined a 2-2 pitch into the right-center gap with one out.
The Cubs had only one other runner in scoring position against Carpenter. Zambrano walked with one out in the fifth and went to second on Barney's two-out infield hit before Castro grounded into a force play.
NOTES: The Cubs have scored two or fewer runs in five of the last 11 games, losing the other four. ... Cardinals RF Lance Berkman was out of the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot to his left wrist, injured in a diving catch last month, and Colby Rasmus also did not start in CF due to fatigue, according to manager Tony La Russa. ... Craig was 1 for 4 with his ninth RBI in 10 games.