ST. LOUIS (AP) – Neifi Perez hit a grand slam in the 10th inning after Chicago blew a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth, and the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-4 on Sunday night to take two of three from the NL Central leaders.

David Eckstein’s single off Ryan Dempster (3-3) in the ninth made it 4-4 when Hector Luna slid around a tag at the plate, touching it with his hand.

Aramis Ramirez’s 27th homer in the eighth, a two-run shot off Julian Tavarez, had given the Cubs a 4-3 lead as the St. Louis bullpen failed to hold a one-run lead for Jeff Suppan for the second straight start.

Todd Walker started the winning rally with a double off Al Reyes (3-2). Derrek Lee and Ramirez were intentionally walked around a sacrifice by Jeromy Burnitz to load the bases, and with two outs Perez lined Reyes’ first pitch over the right-field wall and just inside the line for his second career grand slam and first since July 3, 1999 against the Padres.

The Cardinals jumped on Mark Prior for three solo home runs in the first inning, then managed only four hits the rest of the way and concluded a 6-4 homestand.

Henry Blanco had his second career four-hit game and drove in two runs for the Cubs, who are 7-4 since the All-Star break. Blanco, the Cubs’ backup catcher, entered the game batting .176 with eight RBIs.

Lee was 0-for-1 with four walks for the Cubs, ending a seven-game hitting streak during which he was 11-for-31 with five homers and nine RBIs. One of the walks came with one out in the seventh against Brad Thompson, and he scored with two outs when Ramirez hit a 1-1 pitch from Julian Tavarez over the left-field wall for his 27th home run.

Ramirez is 16-for-35 (.457) during an eight-game hitting streak. He was 14-for-30 on the Cubs’ seven-game trip with six homers and 11 RBIs and helped the Cubs raise their record in St. Louis the last six seasons to 11-33.

In six innings, Suppan was troubled only by Blanco and allowed two runs on five hits.

Three of the Cardinals’ first five batters took Prior over the right-field wall as Abraham Nunez connected with one out and Jim Edmonds and John Mabry followed with back-to-back two-out shots. Prior allowed only an infield hit in his last five innings.

It was the first time the Cardinals hit three homers in an inning since April 9, 2004 at Arizona. It also was the first time in Prior’s career that he allowed back-to-back homers, and also the first time he’d surrendered three in an inning.

Notes: Entering the game, Prior had given up 11 homers in 88 2-3 innings. … Lee is 9-for-18 against Suppan. … Cardinals rookie John Rodriguez struck out as a pinch hitter in the sixth after just missing on a homer earlier in the count, ending his hitting streak at six games. He did not start after spraining his right ankle tripping over an exposed nail in the dugout steps on Sunday. …. Paid attendance of 49,762 gave the Cardinals a sold-out series against the Cubs and their 23rd sellout of the year. … Tavarez also blew the lead for Suppan on Tuesday, surrendering a two-run, eighth-inning double to the Brewers’ Bill Hall. … Dempster blew his second save in 16 attempts.

AP-ES-07-25-05 0009EDT


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