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Cards snap 4-game skid with bizarre win vs. Cubs

Cardinals 2, Cubs 1

CHICAGO (AP) -- Reliever-turned-starter Braden Looper allowed five hits in seven innings and Preston Wilson hit a long two-run homer in the seventh Friday as the St. Louis Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1.

In just his fourth major-league start, Looper (3-1) outdueled Ted Lilly (1-2) in the start of a series featuring a marquee managerial matchup between Lou Piniella and Tony La Russa. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.

Isringhausen was helped when pinch-runner Ronny Cedeno was called out at second on a bizarre play for the second out. With Cedeno running, a 3-2 pitch to Jacque Jones was called a ball but Yadier Molina threw to second and shortstop David Eckstein tagged Jones when he overslid the bag.

Eckstein and La Russa both argued Jones should be out, and after conferring the umpires agreed. Matt Murton then popped out to end the game.

Lilly (1-2) shut the defending World Series champs out on three hits for 6 1/3 innings. But after he walked Jim Edmonds with one out in the seventh, Wilson followed with his first homer, a line drive that cleared the left-field bleachers for a 2-1 lead.

Lilly gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings.

The Cubs scored in the first on singles by Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

It marked Chicago's first run against Looper since 2004. While a reliever with the Cards last season and with the Mets in 2005, Looper had blanked the Cubs for 14 2/3 innings.

There was another bizarre play in the seventh inning.

The Cubs had two on and no outs when Henry Blanco popped up a bunt in front of the plate. Molina reached around Blanco to try and make the catch; as he did, the ball hit the ground.

Molina apparently tagged Blanco and threw to second base with Eckstein covering. Eckstein threw to third where Scott Rolen tagged Mark DeRosa. Rolen relayed the ball to first, and the umpires ruled the Cardinals had turned a triple play.

That brought Piniella out of the dugout to argue. After the umpires conferred, Blanco was ruled out for batter's interference, and Chicago's two runners, DeRosa and Jones, were sent back to their bases.

Looper struck out Cesar Izturis and pinch-hitter Daryle Ward to end the inning.

Game notes
Rolen returned to the St. Louis lineup after missing the previous two games with food poisoning. ... Ramirez has hit in all 12 Cubs games he's played this season and has an 18-game hitting streak extending back to last season. ... After the Cubs scored in the first, the inning ended with a strange double play. Rolen grabbed DeRosa's grounder and threw to second for the force, but DeRosa initially was ruled safe at first when Albert Pujols missed the tag after an off-line throw from Adam Kennedy. As Pujols ran toward first base umpire Angel Hernandez to argue, he tagged DeRosa, who apparently had missed the bag as he ran by. This time DeRosa was called out.