Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Albert Pujols slugged his National League- leading 42nd homer of the season, a three-run blast, and the Cardinals held off the Chicago Cubs, 8-7, after nearly blowing an eight-run lead.
Matt Pagnozzi had two hits and three RBI for St. Louis, which has won three of its last four games. Allen Craig had three hits with an RBI and scored once for the Cardinals.
Jake Westbrook (3-4) allowed five hits and five runs — three earned — over 5 1/3 innings, as the Cardinals stayed mathematically alive in the playoff race. However, Cincinnati’s magic number to win the NL Central is one.
Jeff Samardzija (2-2) allowed seven hits and eight runs over 4 1/3 innings. He walked seven batters.
Brad Snyder had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the fifth inning and Kosuke Fukudome knocked in two runs for Chicago, which lost for the third time in four contests.
Xavier Nady singled in a run and scored on Fukudome’s sacrifice fly to get the Cubs within a run in the seventh inning, but Mitchell Boggs came in and escaped a jam. He fanned Alfonso Soriano, who went to first on a wild pitch. Bobby Scales walked, but Welington Castillo fanned to end the inning.
The Cubs put two runners on base the next inning, but Ryan Franklin retired Nady on a fly ball to right field to cap the frame.
Franklin retired the side in order in the ninth for his 26th save.
After Pujols homered to left field in the first inning, the Cardinals tacked on another run later in the frame on Pagnozzi’s single to center.
Brendan Ryan singled in a run in the fifth and Pagnozzi followed with a two- run double. Craig capped the four-run outburst in the inning with an RBI single.
Westbrook didn’t give up his first hit until the fifth and the Cubs pulled within 8-5 in the sixth. Fukudome doubled in a run, Nady scored on a fielder’s choice from Castillo and Scales came home on a single from pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir.
Chicago won the season series, 9-6…The Cubs finished the season 35-46 at Wrigley Field…The Cardinals left 14 men on base compared to nine for Chicago.