• Turning point: Yadier Molina kicked off the third-inning rally with a two-run double and Miguel Cairo capped the flurry with an RBI-triple.
• Hunt for October: With a lost to the Cardinals, the Cubs had their lead cut to one game in the division over the Brewers, who topped the Reds 5-3.
• Figure this: The Cardinals are 54-2 when leading after seven innings after blowing the eighth-inning lead in the opener.
• Quotable: "Every game has been nip and tuck, so let's hope the nip and tuck game goes our way tomorrow." -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella
-- ESPN.com news services
Cardinals 4, Cubs 3
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Cardinals ended their slide, probably too late to do them any good.
"We've been so close to getting a win, and finally we got the last three outs," said Cairo, 4-for-28 since joining the team. "It's not over until the last game, and you never know what can happen. Baseball is crazy. Two more weeks, there's a lot of games left so you never know what can happen."
The loss ended the Cubs' four-game winning streak, and their NL Central lead was cut to one game over Milwaukee. The defending World Series champions are six games back of the Cubs with 15 games remaining.
"They've been struggling, but they've played us tough, just like I thought they would," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Every game has been nip and tuck, so let's hope the nip and tuck game goes our way tomorrow."
Piniella wasn't happy about playing a day-night doubleheader this late in the season. Players were at Busch Stadium more than 12 hours.
"I think St. Louis was probably just as fatigued as we were," Piniella said. "I don't know why Major League Baseball allows these types of doubleheaders this time of year -- play a game at noon and sit around all day and then have to play again at night."
In the opener, Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning that powered the Cubs to a 3-2 win and gave Kerry Wood his first win since May 29 last year. St. Louis lost nine in a row for the first time since a 10-game skid in 1980. Six of these losses were by two runs or fewer.
Soriano hit another homer in the second game, a two-run drive in the second off Joel Pineiro (5-3). Chicago also got a first-inning RBI single from Aramis Ramirez and took a 3-0 lead, but the Cubs had two runners thrown out at the plate.
A key error by catcher Jason Kendall hurt the Cubs in the third.
Kendall bounced a throw to first that eluded Lee after recovering the ball on a third strike in the dirt to Ryan Ludwick. Yadier Molina had a two-run double, Scott Spiezio tied it with a single -- his first RBI since substance-abuse rehab -- and Cairo tripled over center fielder Jacque Jones.
Kendall said he threw while he was stepping over a bat.
"I should have taken my time to throw and I didn't, and the momentum changed," Kendall said. "It is what it is."
Pineiro allowed one hit his last five innings, retiring 15 straight hitters after Lee's leadoff double in the third. Russ Springer worked around an error to start the eighth and Jason Isringhausen finished for his 29th save in 31 chances.
"I knew what I had to do," Pineiro said. "I beared down, started bringing the ball down, and was very aggressive with the fastball."
Sean Marshall (7-8) made his first start since Aug. 31 and lasted 2 2/3 innings, giving up four runs -- two unearned -- and six hits.
Ryan Dempster shut down the Cardinals with a perfect ninth in the opener, only hours after his struggles made the Cubs scramble for a victory on Friday night.
"I had a little talk with him last night before he left the park and I said, 'Look, I have all the confidence in the world in you," Piniella said. "Today wasn't a good day but tomorrow in a similar situation you're right back in there."
Wood (1-1) struck out one in a perfect seventh in relief of Ted Lilly, who worked six innings and gave up two runs and four hits.
"I'm so happy for him," Piniella said. "If this were a football game, we'd give him the game ball."
Braden Looper threw seven dominant innings and Edmonds hit a two-run double for the Cardinals in the makeup of a postponement the day after the death of Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock on April 29. The opener drew a season-high crowd of 45,918, including a vociferous Cubs contingent, and the second game also sold out (45,894).
"It was a very good pitch and I think I made a very good swing," Soriano said. "That's the best swing I've made in maybe like a week."
Franklin (4-4) has lost four straight decisions after a 4-0 start, and has given up a two-run homer and taken the loss in two of his last three outings.
"There's no trying to figure out anything," Franklin said. "It's just a mistake and he's a good enough hitter, and he just hit it."
Rick Ankiel didn't start against either game against Cubs lefties, striking out as a pinch hitter in the opener. He's 2-for-29 with 10 strikeouts and no RBIs in 10 games since a report he received a year's supply of human growth hormone in 2004. Before the report, he hit .358 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 23 games. ... The Cardinals are 54-2 when leading after seven innings after blowing the eighth-inning lead in the opener. ... Cardinals SS David Eckstein (sore back) has not played in the last three games. ... The Cubs are 62-50 against right-handed starters and 15-22 against left-handers.