Cubs escape ninth, win on Fox's homer
Baseline interference call sets up victory over Cards in 11th
ST. LOUIS -- It felt good to win a ballgame, Lou Piniella said.
Jake Fox smacked a two-run tie-breaking homer with one out in the 11th to lift the Cubs to a 6-3 victory Sunday night over St. Louis, ending their four-game losing streak and delaying the Cardinals' celebration one more day.
Fox connected in his 189th at-bat in his 74th game of the season. He now has 41 RBIs. That's one more than Milton Bradley finished with in 393 at-bats over 124 games before he was sent home.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry suspended Bradley for the rest of the season for detrimental conduct. In an interview, Bradley ripped the Cubs, saying it wasn't a "positive environment." The mercurial outfielder sparred with the media, criticized the fans and failed to deliver on the field. Maybe Bradley was the negative influence on the team?
"I think if he would've swung the bat better, more productively, I think we would've been better off," Piniella said. "It didn't happen. [Bradley] gave us his effort and he's not here any longer, and now we just go forward."
The Cubs, shorthanded in the outfield because of injuries and now Bradley's absence, will add 2006 No. 1 Draft pick Tyler Colvin, who just finished playing in the Southern League championship. However, Reed Johnson could be activated as early as Monday in Milwaukee. He's been on the disabled list since July 30 with a fractured left foot and has been able to run the last three days.
"I'm healthy enough to play," Johnson said Sunday night.
The Cubs can use some good news after losing back-to-back games to the Cardinals on walk-off hits. St. Louis' magic number to clinch the National League Central remained at four.
Fox connected off Mitchell Boggs (2-3) and drove in Andres Blanco, who had singled. Chicago eventually loaded the bases and another run scored on a wild pitch.
"[Boggs] made a mistake and left one up over the zone, and I reacted to it and got some good results," Fox said. "You have to remember in that situation there's as much pressure on him as there is on you."
The knock on Fox has been his inability to play well in the field. He knows what he has to show the Cubs in the final two weeks.
"I have to come out and show them I can give them a consistent performance," Fox said. "If they don't know what they'll get from me one day to the next, they won't put me in the lineup. I have to put good swings on balls and we'll see what happens from there."
St. Louis had the bases loaded and one out in the ninth when Ryan Ludwick hit a potential double-play ball to Blanco. He flipped to shortstop Ryan Theriot, who had to leap over Matt Holliday as he slid into second. Holliday was well off the bag and called for interference to end the inning.
"[Second-base umpire Marty Foster] called it right away," Piniella said. "I wasn't watching the play at second base. I was watching the throw to first. I thought Derrek [Lee] had touched the runner a little bit."
The Cardinals trailed, 3-2, in the eighth when Kevin Gregg walked Holliday. Two outs and a wild pitch later, Yadier Molina slapped an RBI single to left to tie the game. It was Gregg's seventh blown save, and all have come on the road.
Carlos Marmol finished the game for his 14th save, and 11th in a row.
Carlos Zambrano was in line for his ninth win, striking out six over six innings. He moved past Greg Maddux and into sole possession of fifth place on the Cubs' all-time strikeout list when he fanned Mark DeRosa in the third inning for No. 1,306 of his career. Next up is Rick Reuschel at 1,367 Ks.
Zambrano got an assist from Kosuke Fukudome. The Cardinals had two on and two outs in the first when he snared Ludwick's ball, then slammed into the center-field wall head-first.
"That's what it's all about is help your team out," Zambrano said.
"[Fukudome] had the imprints of the wall a little bit on his forehead," Piniella said. "I accused the interpreter of trying to get some TV time."
Zambrano has two more starts remaining, and a chance to finish with double-digit victories.
"I just want to finish strong and finish good and help this team to continue in second place," Zambrano said.
Which is a good attitude to have.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.