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Soriano, Dempster lead Cubs over Cardinals

Aug 1, 2011 - 5:01 AM St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer and Ryan Dempster tossed six-plus solid innings, as the Chicago Cubs held off the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-3, to avoid a three-game sweep.

Marlon Byrd drove in two runs and scored a run for the Cubs, who snapped a five-game skid. Carlos Pena and Starlin Castro added an RBI apiece.

Dempster (8-8) allowed three runs on seven hits to snap a two-start losing streak. The right-hander struck out six and walked one.

Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer for the Cardinals, who acquired infielder Rafael Furcal from the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier on Sunday. Furcal came on as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and grounded into a fielder's choice.

Jake Westbrook (9-5) gave up four runs on three hits over six innings to suffer his first loss since June 12. He struck out three and walked three. Westbrook was 3-0 over his previous seven starts.

Dempster and Westbrook dominated the first five innings, with the latter being perfect.

"It was a lot of fun early on, just cruising through innings," Dempster said. "You that's not going to last whenever you're battling against these guys because they always give you good at-bats."

The Cardinals almost broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. With one out, David Freese hit the ball off the top of the wall in right-center field for a double. Replay confirmed that the ball did not clear the wall. The home team went on to put men on the corners, but Westbrook popped out to end the threat.

It all fell apart on the mound for Westbrook in the sixth. The St. Louis starter retired the first 16 batters he faced, but that streak came to an end when Koyie Hill walked with one-out in the sixth. Hill moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Reed Johnson then broke up Westbrook's bid for a no-hitter with a single to right. Castro followed with an RBI ground-rule double to right-center field. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases with two outs. Pena also walked to force in another run. Byrd made it a 4-0 game with a two- run single to right.

"It was one of those situations where if you don't shut your mouth you get in trouble," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But we didn't deserve the runs we gave up."

The Cardinals promptly responded with three runs in the home sixth. Jon Jay reached base on a fielder's choice and Albert Pujols doubled to left to put men on second and third. After Matt Holliday struck out looking, Berkman hit a three-run homer to right-center field to cut the gap to 4-3.

St. Louis had a chance to tie the game or go in front during its next at-bat. Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso started the frame with back-to-back singles. Sean Marshall replaced Dempster on the mound and the crowd cheered as Furcal came on as a pinch-hitter. Furcal grounded into a fielder's choice and pinch- hitter Ryan Theriot grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Soriano put the game out of reach with a two-run homer in the ninth. Byrd hit a one-out single before Soriano cleared the wall in left for a 6-3 lead.

Carlos Marmol worked around a one-out single in the home ninth for his 20th save of the season.

Game Notes

The Cardinals are 7-2 against the Cubs this season...Dempster improved to 8-8 in 46 career games (20 starts) against the Cardinals. He also made 347th appearance as a Cub, moving past Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown for the 10th most appearances in franchise history...Westbrook fell to 7-2 in 14 night starts this season...The Cardinals optioned infielder Tyler Greene to Memphis (PCL) and moved pitcher Eduardo Sanchez to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Furcal on the 40-man roster.