St. Louis joins Houston atop NL Central

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Kerry Robinson's first homer of the season came
at a perfect time for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Robinson hit a 3-2 pitch from Chicago Cubs reliever Mike
Remlinger over the right-center field wall leading off the bottom
of the ninth inning Thursday night, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 win
and a share of first place in the NL Central.

Robinson fell behind 0-2 in the count, took three balls, then
hit a line drive into the St. Louis bullpen that reliever Jason Simontacchi caught with his cap. It was Robinson's first homer
since May 29, 2002, at Houston.

The Cardinals tied Houston for first place, while the Cubs
stayed 1½ games behind.

Robinson, shuttled three times this year to Triple-A Memphis,
said it was his first game-ending home run.

"I don't think I've ever done it in a video game," said
Robinson, who also had an RBI double.

In fact, the 175-pound outfielder figured he wouldn't even bat
given the availability of the more powerful Eduardo Perez on the

"I was kind of surprised they left me in there," Robinson
said. "I kind of asked, 'Am I hitting?' They said, 'Yeah, get up

Reliever Mike DeJean (5-7) pitched 1 2/3 hitless innings to earn
his first win since Milwaukee traded him to St. Louis last week. He
escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth when Ramon Martinez lined to center fielder Jim Edmonds, whose throw home beat
Doug Glanville.

"I don't think anybody in baseball has as much accuracy and
with such strength of arm," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said
of Edmonds.

It marked the third straight game the Cardinals hit the Chicago
bullpen hard. St. Louis scored three ninth-inning runs in Tuesday's
7-4 loss, then rallied from a 2-0 eighth-inning deficit to win 4-2

"It's frustrating to have a guy who hasn't hit a home run all
year beat you," said Remlinger (5-5). "It's unacceptable."

The Cardinals won five of seven games against the Cubs at Busch
Stadium this year and 13 of 16 over the past two seasons. St. Louis
hasn't lost a home series to the Cubs since the final series of the
1999 season. Since 1996, the Cubs are 12-42 in St. Louis.

The game featured strong showings by both starting pitchers,
Chicago's Carlos Zambrano and the Cardinals' Matt Morris.

Zambrano, who has lost once in his past eight starts, allowed
just two runs, one earned, in seven innings, striking out six and
walking three.

Zambrano was 6-8 with a 3.58 ERA after a 7-2 loss to Florida on
July 13. Since then, he's 6-1 with a 1.48 ERA.

Chicago's starting pitchers -- Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and
Zambrano -- allowed two earned runs in 22 innings during the series.
The two teams meet again for a five-game series starting Monday at
Wrigley Field.

Morris was also sharp, allowing two earned runs on just four
hits in seven innings, striking out two and walking one. It was his
second start since missing a month with a broken bone in his
pitching hand.

Morris, who blamed mechanical problems for a six-game stretch in
which his ERA was 10.37 prior to going on the disabled list, has
given up just three earned runs in 12 innings since his return. He
retired 13 straight at one point.

Sammy Sosa homered in the first inning to dead center, his 31st
of the season and the 530th of his career.

The Cubs went ahead 2-0 in the third on a double by Paul Bako,
Zambrano's single and a sacrifice fly by Martinez.

The Cardinals had runners on base in every inning but the
eighth. They scored in the sixth on a single by Edgar Renteria, who
was 3-for-4, a two-out throwing error by Zambrano and Robinson's
double down the third-base line.

Scott Rolen tied it with a two-out homer to right-center in the
seventh, his 25th. Rolen has now hit 25 or more homers in six
straight seasons.

Game notes
When the Cubs were in first place Aug. 16, it marked the
deepest into the season they had been atop a division race since
1989, when they won the NL East. ... Albert Pujols reached base 10
straight times before grounding out in the seventh. The Cardinals'
record is 12 set by Chick Hafey in 1929 and Edmonds in 2000. ... La Russa needs six more wins to reach 2,000 for his career. Only seven
other managers have reached the milestone. ... Cubs pitchers have
struck out 10 or more in 44 games this season.