Cardinals avoid winless homestand, beat Cubs 7-6

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Mike Matheny was feeling a bit giddy after the St. Louis Cardinals avoided an 0-5 homestand.

''There's going to be some loud music playing in the clubhouse, and there's going to be some crazy stuff on the plane, too,'' Matheny said after Yadier Molina's RBI single with two outs in the ninth gave St. Louis a 7-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday. ''I can't tell you how proud I am about just the fight in this team. ''That's going to pay off.''

The Cubs shaded Molina to hit up the middle, and second baseman Darwin Barney could only get his glove partially of a grounder to the right side. Molina noticed the alignment.

''I'm just trying to put a ball in play, hopefully find a hole,'' Molina said. ''I didn't try to hit the ball that way, but I just wanted to stay back a little bit more. We really needed this win.''

Although Molina has had numerous big hits through the right side during his career, the Cubs' data called for a shift, and manager Dale Sveum said he'd do it again.

''It's unfortunate,'' Barney said. ''One quarter of a step from maybe saving a run and having another chance.''

Alfonso Soriano, who hit 26 home runs last year, tied it the score for the fourth time when he hit his first of the season leading off the ninth against Jason Motte (2-1).

Matt Carpenter's second homer in four games off James Russell had put the Cardinals up in the eighth. Chicago scored three runs in the first, and there were later four ties before the Cardinals won.

Matt Holliday also homered on a three-hit day, Allen Craig had three hits and two RBIs, and Tyler Greene stopped an 0-for-17 skid with three hits, including a double and triple for St. Louis.

''Today was a good day. It was good for the team to get the win and end this little funk we've been in,'' Greene said. ''You just keep working, keep pushing. You've got to believe in it and have confidence in it.''

The NL Central leaders are 9-8 at home after prevailing in a game that was tied at 3, 4, 5 and 6. The four-game losing streak, which began with three defeats against Atlanta, was the franchise's worst since a seven-game slump June 10-17 last year against three teams.

The opposition scored first in all five games.

''We'll take them anyway we can get them,'' Matheny said. ''The guys did a great job coming back. Just a great atmosphere.''

The Cardinals won without two of their biggest bats. Lance Berkman was a late lineup scratch because it was a day game after a night game - plus he's just a .206 career hitter against Maholm with one RBI. Carlos Beltran missed his second straight game with knee soreness.

Matheny wasn't sure whether Beltran would be back Wednesday at San Francisco.

Bryan LaHair hit his 10th homer, half of them against the Cardinals, and Reed Johnson contributed his second go-ahead pinch hit in three days with a single in the seventh. LaHair has reached base safely in 32 consecutive games.

''I think we have to make an adjustment,'' said Molina, the Cardinals catcher.

Holliday singled off Cubs closer Rafael Dolis (2-3) to start the ninth and advanced on David Freese's one-out groundout. Holliday scored without a play on Molina's hit.

Chicago has lost 10 of 14 in St. Louis dating to last June 3.

The Cardinals capitalized on Kerry Wood's wildness to tie it in the seventh. Wood has 11 walks in 8 1-3 innings after issuing passes to Rafael Furcal and Holliday, and Craig tied with a one-out single. Craig had an RBI double in the first and has an extra-base hit in eight of his 12 games.

Holliday put the Cardinals ahead with his seventh homer in the fifth, a drive to left estimated at 445 feet. He also singled in the first and is 6 for 29 against Paul Maholm.

Maholm didn't allow more than one run in each of his previous four starts but gave up two in the first.

Kyle Lohse trailed by a run after his first seven pitches produced three hits, including an RBI single for Starlin Castro. Soriano and Ian Stewart also drove in runs, and the Cubs had 11 swings and no misses while going up 3-0.

Lohse retired 14 in a row with the help of a double play before LaHair's homer.

''It was kind of a perfect storm in that first, me being aggressive but a little bit up, and they're swinging,'' Lohse said.

NOTES: Jaime Garcia (2-2, 4.09) opposes Madison Bumgarner (5-2, 3.80) as the Cardinals begin a two-game series at San Francisco on Wednesday. ... Matt Garza (2-1, 2.56) pitches for the Cubs on Wednesday at home against the Phillies and Vance Worley (3-2, 3.07). ... Geovany Soto had his third two-hit game of the month Tuesday. He's 2 for 24 in the other 11 games. ... Since 1918, no Cubs lefty has gone five straight starts with at least six innings and one or fewer runs allowed. Maholm is among four Cubs lefties to do it five straight starts, and the first since Ken Holtzman in 1969. ... Both games were sold out, giving the Cardinals nine sellouts in 17 home games.

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