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Cardinals break losing streak with walk-off single
Molina's two-out hit in the ninth inning lifted St. Louis to a 7-6 win against the Cubs
ST. LOUIS -- 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 on 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 on 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 Cubs 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 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, this one off James Russell, had put the Cardinals up in the eighth. Chicago scored three runs in the first, and there were later four ties.
Matt Holliday also homered in a three-hit performance, 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.
"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 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. The four-game losing streak, which began with three defeats against Atlanta, was the franchise's worst since a seven-game slump June 10 to 17 last year.
"We'll take them any way 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, and he's just a .206 career hitter against Cubs starter Paul Maholm with one RBI. Carlos Beltran missed his second consecutive game with knee soreness.
Matheny wasn't sure whether Beltran would be back today 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.
Holliday singled off Cubs closer Rafael Dolis (2-3) to start the ninth and advanced on David Freese's one-out ground out. Holliday scored without a play on Molina's hit.
Chicago has lost 10 of its last 14 games in St. Louis.
The Cardinals capitalized on Kerry Wood's wildness to tie it in the seventh. Wood has walked 11 over 8 1/3 innings after he issued passes to Rafael Furcal and Holliday. Craig tied the score 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.
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.
* Jaime Garcia (2-2, 4.09) opposes Madison Bumgarner (5-2, 3.80) as the Cardinals begin a two-game series at San Francisco tonight.
* Both games were sold out, giving the Cardinals nine sellouts in 17 home games.