Blanco’s hit gives Cubs win
CHICAGO (AP)—Jim Edmonds has experienced both sides of the Cardinals-Cubs matchup, one of baseball’s most spirited and emotional rivalries.
After eight seasons with the Cardinals, when he was often booed at Wrigley Field, Edmonds got a curtain call Friday from the same Cubs fans after hitting the second of his two homers against Braden Looper in Chicago’s 3-2 win.
Henry Blanco’s bases-loaded single in the 11th drove in the winning run as the Cubs improved to 44-16 at home, matching their Wrigley win total of last season.
“It’s a little odd to play against a group of individuals that I’ve been so close to for so long, it’s like playing in the backyard with your family. So it’s different that way,” Edmonds said. “But you know, you got to separate and move on.”
During Edmonds’ return trip to St. Louis last month, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was miffed about Edmonds’ comments that he was happy to be with the Cubs and tired of talking about his past. Edmonds responded by saying La Russa ducked him before the first game of that series.
And he said he still hasn’t spoken to La Russa.
“No. I’m just playing baseball, that’s all I know,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds appeared to enjoy his first homer Friday, pausing at the plate momentarily to watch it take off before rounding the bases. Before the drive, Edmonds was 0-for-7 this season against his former team.
“That’s what it’s all about, having fun. The guy that’s pitching over there is a great friend of mine,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds’ stellar performance came on the Cardinals’ first visit to Wrigley this season. And La Russa said he didn’t see anything extra from Edmonds after his first homer.
“He’s been a good player his whole career. He had a good day today. I didn’t notice anything and nobody said anything to me about it,” La Russa said. “If you look around, everybody gets excited when they do great. …That’s just the way the game is today.”
Edmonds’ second homer, his 15th of the season, was an opposite-field shot to left-center. He ran quickly around the bases after tying the game but did come out of the dugout for a curtain call.
With the score 2-2, Derrek Lee drew a leadoff walk against Ryan Franklin (4-5) in the 11th and, running on a 3-2 pitch, took third on Aramis Ramirez’s single to right center. Kosuke Fukudome was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Blanco, who entered in the 10th, lined a pitch over shortstop Cesar Izturis. It was Blanco’s first game-winning RBI this season in just his 80th at-bat. The veteran backup catcher has also been tutoring rookie All-Star Geovany Soto this season.
“That’s why we call it a team. At some point in the season all 25 count,” Blanco said. “I know what my job is. I just got to stay ready when they need me.”
Bob Howry (5-4) pitched the 11th for the win.
Joe Mather homered for the Cardinals, who had two runners cut down at the plate—one on a squeeze bunt attempt in the fifth and the second when left fielder Alfonso Soriano made a great throw after catching a fly ball for an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
Izturis doubled in the fifth and made third when Edmonds’ relay throw skipped by Mark DeRosa and Lee for an error. But with Looper, the No. 8 hitter at the plate, the Cardinals tried a bunt. Ted Lilly’s low inside pitch knocked Looper off his feet and Cubs’ Soto easily tagged out Izturis, who had broken from third.
Adam Kennedy’s RBI grounder in the sixth gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. Lilly intentionally walked Albert Pujols and then walked Ryan Ludwick to load the bases with just one out. Troy Glaus hit a fly to medium left but Soriano, who was moving forward when he made the catch, made a laser-like peg to the plate and Soto tagged Mather out on a close play.
“It took a good throw to get me out,” Mather said. “He didn’t leave me a whole lot of plate, but I thought I might have snuck my hand in there. When he called me out, he had a pretty good view of it.”
Glaus went 0-for-5 and is hitless in 29 at-bats against the Cubs this season. … Cubs’ rookie reliever Jeff Samardzija pitched two scoreless innings and alertly threw out Pujols when he took off from first and tried to steal second in the 10th. … Kerry Wood, who just came off the DL this week after a blister problem on his finger, was unavailable because of a sore back, manager Lou Piniella said.