Ramirez hit a two-out, two-run double off Isringhausen to send the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.
“He’s an RBI guy,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s had two 100-RBI years and he’s getting better.
“He uses the center of the field. He does what’s necessary.”
The Cubs have won nine of 10 to cut the Cardinals’ NL Central lead to one game. The Cardinals have won 15 of 21 but lost their last two. They face the Cubs twice more in this series.
Jim Edmonds flied out to left for the final out of the game in his first pinch-hitting appearance of the season. He was removed from the lineup due to a groin injury, and manager Tony La Russa said Edmonds might not play Wednesday.
“I’m not sure about tomorrow,” La Russa said. “It’s been bothering him a little bit the last few days.”
Cardinals players wore black wristbands inscribed with the number 57 on the second anniversary of the death of pitcher Darryl Kile. He died in Chicago while the Cardinals were on a road trip there.
Tony Womack’s RBI single in the seventh gave the Cardinals the lead after Lee’s homer in the top of the seventh tied it.
But the Cubs rallied against Isringhausen (3-2). It was his fourth blown save in 19 chances.
Mark Grudzielanek singled off Jason Marquis to start the eighth and advanced on a sacrifice. Isringhausen got Alou to ground out and walked Sosa on a full count before Ramirez doubled to the gap in right-center.
Isringhausen didn’t consider Sosa’s at-bat pivotal.
“I’m not going to let that man beat me,” Isringhausen said. “No disrespect to Aramis. Then again, if I throw a strike to him and he beats me, then everybody asks me why I threw to him. It’s a no-win situation.”
Isringhausen said Ramirez’s hit “landed in no-man’s land.”
La Russa defended going to Isringhausen for what would have been a five-out save because the Cubs’ 3-4-5 hitters were coming up and Isringhausen had two days off since a four-out save on Saturday.
Isringhausen has five saves of more than one inning this season.
“I was trying to win the game,” La Russa said. “He’s fresh, it’s the heart of the lineup, Izzy’s the guy I wanted out there.”
Kyle Farnsworth (3-3) got Edgar Renteria to ground out with runners on second and third for the last out in the seventh, then retired the Cardinals’ 3-4-5 batters, striking out Albert Pujols and John Mabry, in the eighth. LaTroy Hawkins finished for his ninth save in 12 chances.
Marquis lasted 7 1-3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits with a season-high eight strikeouts and two walks. Greg Maddux, who has 295 career wins, gave up four runs on nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He won three of his four previous starts and beat Marquis and the Cardinals on May 3 in St. Louis.
Scott Rolen drove in his major league-leading 71st run with a sacrifice fly in the Cardinals’ three-run first. Maddux, who has allowed 11 first-inning runs in 15 starts, retired 18 of his next 19 hitters before tiring in the seventh.
“I thought on my good pitches I gave up hits and on my bad pitches I got outs,” Maddux said of the first inning. “You tip your hat and move on and just try and hold them and hope the boys come back.”
Ramirez doubled with one out in the second and scored on Corey Patterson’s one-out groundout for the Cubs’ first run, and Alou’s 18th homer cut the gap to3-2 in the fourth.
Womack, the Cardinals’ 2B, twice robbed Patterson, snaring his liner and turning it into a double play in the fourth and then ranging far to his right to glove his grounder in the seventh. … Lankford started in CF for the first time since Sept. 28, 2001, when he was with the Padres. He has played primarily LF since a knee operation following the 1998 season. … Lee is batting .434 (33-for-76) since June 1 with five homers, 13 doubles and 18RBIs.