ST. LOUIS — Chris Duncan found a pitch he liked and the result, a grand slam, helped the St. Louis Cardinals avoid a sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.
Albert Pujols snapped an 0-for-11 slump with a three-run home run and Braden Looper pitched seven innings as the Cardinals routed the Cubs 11-1 on Thursday.
“You know the old saying. If you’re going to win one out of three, win the last one,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
With the Cardinals nursing a 1-0 lead, Duncan came up with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. He hit a 2-2 pitch for his 20th home run and his second grand slam of the season to give the Cardinals some breathing room.
“I was waiting for something out over the plate and I just wanted to give myself a shot,” Duncan said. “I knew I hit it good but I thought I might have hit it too high.”
Pujols, who did not meet with the media after the game, also was an offensive force, driving in five runs, tying his season high. He last did it on June 10 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Chicago starter Jason Marquis (7-6) allowed six runs in five innings.
He walked four and struck out just one. Marquis had beaten his former teammates in two earlier starts this season.
St. Louis scored five runs on two hits in the fifth for a 6-0 lead.
Aaron Miles led off with a single and Marquis walked Looper, who was trying to bunt. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Marquis walked Jim Edmonds. With the bases loaded, Marquis hit Pujols to score Miles and set the stage for Duncan.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” Duncan said.
The Cubs, winners of the first two games of the series, remained two games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central.
The defending champion Cardinals are eight games back in third place. The Brewers come to St. Louis for four games beginning today.
Looper (8-8) gave up a run and five hits to win for the second time in three starts. He has a 1.38 ERA in his eight victories.
“I felt good today. I made a lot of good pitches,” Looper said.
Scott Rolen hit his sixth home run with two outs in the fourth, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. It was his second homer in four days. Last week, Rolen missed four games after receiving a cortisone injection in his left shoulder to help with inflammation and tightness. It was Rolen’s first homer at Busch Stadium since June 18, a span of 97 at-bats.
“I thought that was really important to give us the lead,” La Russa said.
In the sixth against Billy Petrick, the Cards scored four runs. Yadier Molina and Miles singled. Molina then stole his first base of the season, fourth in his career. Looper hit a bloop single to left, scoring Molina. With two outs, Pujols slammed the ball into the right-field bleachers for his first hit in the series.
It was Pujols’ seventh home run since the All-Star break.
“He’s a special player. Everybody knows that,” Marquis said. “Everybody goes through slumps but players of that magnitude minimize how long they’re in them.”
Derrek Lee hit a solo homer in the sixth for Chicago’s only run. It was his first home run on the road.