Albert Pujols hit his NL league-leading 42nd home run and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Chicago Cubs 8-7 Sunday, preventing the NL Central from being clinched.The first-place Cincinnati Reds won at San Diego to reduce their magic number to one.Pujols hit a three-run homer and Matt Pagnozzi drove in three runs as the Cardinals took an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning. The Cubs’ rally fell short, and they finished 35-46 at Wrigley Field this season.Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (3-4) pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. He didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning, then retired only two of his next 10 batters.Ryan Franklin got five outs for his 26th save in 28 opportunities. He retired Xavier Nady on a popup with runners on first and second in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth inning.Jeff Smardzija (2-2) was tagged for eight runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.Pujols’ homer highlighted a four-run first inning. His drive into the wind landed on Waveland Avenue, and Smardzija walked the next two batters before Pagnozzi hit an RBI single with two outs.St. Louis scored four more runs in the fifth. After two walks, Smardzija gave up an RBI single to Brendan Ryan and Pagnozzi followed with a two-run double.Pinch-hitter Brad Snyder had a two-run single in the Cubs fifth.Kosuke Fukudome had an RBI double in the sixth and Westbrook’s outing ended after walking Bobby Scales with one out. Scales later scored on pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir’s two-out single.The Cubs closed to 8-7 in the seventh, helped by center fielder Colby Rasmus’ two-base error. Reliever Mitchell Boggs struck out Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo to end the inning.
NOTES—A CT scan on Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth was negative and he was to be released from the hospital a day after being hit in the face by a line drive. Hawksworth was hospitalized overnight after being struck by Sam Fuld’s shot in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game. He received about 20 stitches, but the scan showed no structural damage. … St. Louis went 34-47 on the road this year….The next sports event at Wrigley Field will be the November 20 Big Ten Football game as Northwestern will host Illinois.This will be the first football game at Wrigley since December 1970 when the Bears beat the Green Bay Packers.
ANAHEIM—Juan Pierre tripled home the tying run and scored on Omar Vizquel’s single in the seventh inning, leading the White Sox over the Angels 4-3 Sunday.The White Sox have beaten the Angels seven straight times, their longest winning streak against them since a 10-game stretch in 1983-84.Angels starter Jered Weaver (13-12) struck out nine and took over the major league strikeout lead with 229, two more than Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Tony Pena (5-2) pitched six innings in his second big league start. He allowed three runs, all of them in the first inning.Matt Thornton relieved Scott Linebrink after a leadoff single in the eighth and got six outs for his seventh save in nine tries.Weaver (13-12) gave up three earned in 6 2-3 innings without walking a batter. His ERA went from 2.99 to 3.02 with one start remaining — no Angels starting pitcher has ended a season with at least 20 starts and an ERA under 3.00 since 1992, when Jim Abbott had a 2.77 mark.Pierre singled, stole his major league-leading 61st base and scored on Carlos Quentin’s single in the sixth to get the Sox within 3-2.Mark Teahen led off the White Sox seventh with a single, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Alejandro De Aza and scored when right fielder Bobby Abreu took a bad route to Pierre’s two-out drive to the alley and the ball eluded his outstretched glove. Vizquel delivered Pierre with a single through the middle that chased Weaver.The Angels grabbed their early lead on Abreu’s RBI double and run-scoring singles by Torii Hunter and rookie Hank Conger. Abreu’s hit made him the first player in history to record 40 doubles, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases five times in a career. No one else has done it more than three times.
NOTES—Angels manager Mike Scioscia hasn’t contacted Texas manager Ron Washington yet to offer congratulations on Saturday’s AL West-clinching victory by the Rangers, but plans on doing it face-to-face when they begin a season-ending four-game set in Arlington next Thursday. “He’s done a terrific job, and they deserved it,” Scioscia said. “They certainly played better than us over the course of the season. They struggled during the last month, but we weren’t prepared to take advantage of it when the door was open. Otherwise, we’d be right in there. But that became a moot point, and that’s what’s disappointing. The guys in that room didn’t perform at a level that would have had us contending, so that’s kind of the fly in the ointment.” … Mark Buehrle will attempt to end a drought of six straight winless starts Monday night against the Red Sox. His fifth out of that game will make him the only pitcher to record 200 innings, 10 wins and 30 starts in each of the last 10 seasons.
MINNEAPOLIS—Chad Spann ran for a career-high 223 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Northern Illinois past Minnesota 34-23 Saturday night.Chandler Harnish threw touchdown passes to Martel Moore and Connor Flahive for the Huskies (2-2).Adam Weber threw for a season-high 373 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota (1-3), which lost its third straight at home. The inconsistent Gophers hung with No. 20 USC for three quarters last week before losing 32-21, and lost 41-38 to South Dakota, an FCS team, two weeks ago.Harnish and Flahive connected for a 2-yard score on fourth down early in the fourth quarter for a 27-16 Huskies lead.Spann, whose previous high was 174 yards against Eastern Michigan last year, scored on a 61-yard run with 6:22 to play, to clear out much of the crowd at TCF Bank Stadium. He had 106 rushing yards in the first half.Harnish’s first touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to Moore with 3 seconds left in the first half, gave Northern Illinois a 20-13 lead.Duane Bennett had 74 rushing yards for Minnesota. He had 299 yards in the Gophers’ first two games, but a sore ankle limited him to just six carries and 8 yards last week. Bennett’s 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was negated by a holding penalty.He was stuffed on a fourth-down play at the NIU 21 to end the same drive. Spann made the game-clinching rumble up the middle three plays later.Weber found MarQueis Gray for a 29-yard touchdown for Minnesota with 4:18 to play, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds.Both teams were looking for momentum heading into next week’s conference openers – Minnesota at home to Northwestern in the Big 10 opener and Northern Illinois at Akron in the Mid-American.Minnesota may not be favored in any of its eight Big Ten games – including five with ranked teams – making it difficult to avoid a third losing season in coach Tim Brewster’s four years. There were at least three “Fire Brewster” chants during the game.It was the second straight strong performance against a Big Ten team for the Huskies, who lost 28-22 at Illinois last week, and are favored by many to win the MAC West Division.
Jack Skille, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith each had a goal and an assist, and the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Saturday night in exhibition play in their first home game since winning the Stanley Cup in June at Philadelphia.The announced crowd of 20,553 set a a franchise preseason record.Ryan Potulny also scored for the Hawks, who won for the first time in the preseason following two losses.Valtteri Filppula and Drew Miller scored for Detroit, also 1-2-0 in exhibition play.Marty Turco made 23 saves for Hawks, and Chris Osgood stopped 30 shots for Detroit.
SOUTH BEND—Owen Marecic enjoyed his trip to the end zone so much, he wasted no time getting back.Marecic, one of the few players to play both offense and defense, scored on a run and interception return 13 seconds apart Saturday, helping No. 16 Stanford to a 37-14 victory over Notre Dame that gives the Cardinal their first 4-0 start since 1986.Nate Whitaker tied a Cardinal record with five field goals, from 24, 41, 36, 33 and 29 yards. The victory was only Stanford’s third in South Bend, and first since 1992. And the Cardinal have now won two in a row against Notre Dame (1-3), a first in a series that dates to the 1925 Rose Bowl.Notre Dame got only a field goal off three turnovers — including Andrew Luck’s first two interceptions of the year — as it dropped its third straight and seventh in the last eight games. The loss also was Notre Dame’s 11th straight against Top 25 teams, with five of those coming at home.Luck and Stanford didn’t look quite as sharp as the team that piled up 155 points in the first three games, with Luck throwing multiple picks for the first time in 16 starts. But the Cardinal simply overwhelmed the Irish, piling up 404 yards on offense and stifling any hint of a Notre Dame rally.Dayne Crist finished with 304 yards passing, but the Irish couldn’t get into the end zone until there was 6:01 left and the game was well out of hand.Notre Dame appeared to have the momentum early, when Doug Baldwin muffed a punt return on Stanford’s first possession. After signaling for a fair catch, the ball bounced off his hands and Zeke Motta recovered at the Stanford 21. But the Irish could only get a few yards here and there on the drive, and had to settle for David Ruffer’s 22-yard field goal.Stanford caught a break on its next drive. On third-and-1 at the Notre Dame 20, nose guard Ian Williams appeared to stop Marecic about a half-yard short of a first down only to have officials credit him with a 2-yard gain. Notre Dame challenged the call, but it was upheld to keep the drive alive.Seven plays later, Luck connected with Coby Fleener on a 16-yard touchdown pass, and Stanford never trailed again.If Notre Dame had any hope of getting back in the game, Marecic put an end to it with his 13-second scoring spree midway through the fourth quarter.With 7:58 to play, he scored on a 1-yard run. After only a few minutes to catch his breath — he had to be wishing for a few more commercials — he intercepted a pass from Crist on the very next play, running it back 20 yards for the score to put Stanford up 34-6.Even some rare miscues by Luck didn’t help the Irish.He threw only four interceptions last year, his first as a starter, but he was picked off near the end of the first half and midway through the third quarter – both times as he looked for big-play receiver Chris Owusu. Notre Dame couldn’t do anything with either, though, going three-and-out each time.The rare victory in South Bend should give the Cardinal some added confidence as they head into the two toughest weeks of their season. They travel next week to No. 5 Oregon, one of the toughest places in the country to play, then return home to face No. 20 Southern California.Beat those two teams, and Stanford might find itself in more rare territory: the Rose Bowl.
EVANSTON—The Northwestern Wildcats ran the table in their four Non-Big Ten games with a 30-25 win over Central Michigan. They overcame a decent MAC team and an awful officiating outfit.Northwestern received the opening kickoff and found out quickly that even though they were at home,the Big Ten Conference crew working this game gave Central Michigan some quick protection.This crew was simply awful all afternoon.The Wildcats(4-0) were called for a very questionable ‘block in the back’ penalty on the opening kickoff which caused them to start at their own 11. Then there was a ’12 men in the huddle call’ that caused a first and 15,followed by a ‘false start’. Eventually,the Cats faced a third and one and Arby Fields was stuffed for no gain and the Cats had to punt. Brandon Williams ‘rugby punted’ for only 32 yards to the CMU 33. The Chippewas(2-2) were helped out by two face mask penalties and got the ball to the NU 27, but Ryan Radcliff’s pass was tipped and intercepted by David Nwabuisi and returned 3 yards to the NU 21.A would be touchdown run by Persa was called back due to a holding penalty on Demetrius Fields.The Wildcats did regroup and Persa hit Jeremy Ebert in stride for a 24 yard TD,but Stefan Demos’s PAT attempt was blocked leaving the score 6-0 NU with 4:53 left in the first quarter. CMU then went 74 yards in just five plays with Radcliff lateraling the ball to Cody Wilson who took it 31 yards for the game tying TD as David Harman’s kick was also blocked. The first quarter ended 6-6.
Persa hit Fields for 21 yards to the one. Jacob Schmidt then crashed over and this time Demos’s kick was good to make it 13-6 NU with 7:23 left in the half.On CMU’s next possession, Radcliff hit Paris Cotton who fumbled thanks to a Quentin Davie hit,and NU’s Corbin Bryant recovered at the C.Michigan 25.Persa however threw an interception right to Nick Bellore who returned it out to the CMU 12.The Chippewas took advantage and used some deceptive plays to move 88 yards and hit Carl Volny at the 10 and he escaped two tacklers and finished a 16 yard TD play to tie the game 13-all with 1:15 left. Persa did get his team deep enough for a 44 yard field goal with one second left by Demos,but after a high snap,the kick ended up wide right keeping the game deadlocked at halftime.
The Wildcats held CMU to a three and out to start the third quarter and got all the way to the Chippewas ten before the struggling running game failed. Demos connected on a 27 yard field goal with 9:20 to go in the period.On the first play after the kickoff,Radcliff threw the ball right to NU’s Quentin Williams at the CMU 25.Persa then found a wide open Ebert up the middle for a touchdown on the first play after the turnover. The Cats adventurous place kicking team got the job done-barely. Another poor snap was handled and placed down by Brandon Williams and Demos send a dying quail barely through the uprights to give the Wildcats their biggest lead at 23-13.Central Michigan was forced to punt twice,sandwiched between one by NU, and the Cats took over at the CMU 47.As the fourth quarter started,it took NU five plays to convert with Schmidt taking a ‘triple option’ pitch from Persa and rolling around left end and breaking the plain of the goal line above the pile on(the goofs in stripes first called him down at the one,but it got reversed for seemingly the umpteenth time)for a 13 yard TD which upped the Cats lead to 30-13.Central got their first points of the second half as Volny scored his second TD of the game from two yards out.For the second time in the game,the Wildcats blocked Harmon’s PAT try.CMU dod get a last minute TD,but missed their two point try.
NOTES—NU plays it’s first Big Ten game next Saturday at Minnesota….The Wildcats are 4-0 for the second time since 1962.
Sam Fuld hit a go-ahead two-run single off Chris Carpenter, Casey Coleman pitched seven effective innings and the Cubs beat St. Louis 7-3 on Saturday, damaging the Cardinals’ flickering playoff hopes.Blake DeWitt and Aramis Ramirez had two hits and two RBI apiece for the Cubs, who trailed 3-0 in the third. Coleman allowed two earned runs and five hits.Carpenter (15-9) lasted just four innings and reliever Blake Hawksworth was hit in the face by a Fuld liner in the fifth, sending the reliever to the hospital.St. Louis’ loss dropped the magic number for Cincinnati to clinch the NL Central title to two. The Reds were at San Diego later in the day.Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in St. Louis’ two-run third, helping the Cardinals build a 3-0 lead, but the Cubs responded by scoring four runs with two out in the bottom half.Ramirez singled in Blake DeWitt and Kosuke Fukudome scored on catcher Bryan Anderson’s throwing error, cutting it to 3-2. Carpenter then intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano to get to Fuld, who grounded a single back up the middle.The Cubs home finale is Sunday with the Cards.
This time the bullpen came through and Adam Wainwright finally got that elusive win.Wainwright pitched six innings for his 20th victory and Allen Craig hit a three-run homer in the St. Louis Cardinals‘ 7-1 win over the Cubs on Friday.Wainwright (20-11) got help from vindicated St. Louis reliever Kyle McClellan, who pitched two scoreless innings to help secure the victory.Last season, Wainwright left his last start of the season against the Brewers with a 6-1 lead in the seventh inning with two runners on and no outs. His shot at a 20th victory evaporated when McClellan relieved him and allowed the two inherited runners to score and gave up four more runs.Wainwright coasted after getting staked a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The right-hander allowed one run on six hits, striking out seven and walking one. Wainwright joined CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay as baseball’s third 20-game winner one season after no big league pitchers accomplished the feat.Wainwright is the first Cardinals pitcher to win 20 games since Chris Carpenter went 21-5 in 2005. He tied Halladay for the NL lead in strikeouts with 213 and lowered his ERA to 2.42, second behind Marlins starter Josh Johnson in the NL. The 28-year-old Wainwright improved to 19-0 when receiving 4-plus runs a game in support.La Russa believes winning 20 games in a season is becoming a rarer feat.The Cardinals temporarily held the Reds’ magic number to three in the NL Central. The Cardinals trail the Reds by seven games with nine left. Cincinnati was playing at San Diego on later Friday night.The Cubs got only 3 1-3 innings from starter Tom Gorzelanny (7-9) one day after they went through five relievers in a 13-0 loss to the Giants. Gorzelanny allowed seven runs on seven hits and walked five with four strikeouts. He pitched for the first time since Sept. 1, when he was hit in the hand by a line drive in a win over the Pirates.Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs, who began their final three-game home series of the season with its third loss in four games to fall 15 games under .500. The Cubs have only scored three run in its last four games.St. Louis has won back-to-back games after losing three straight and improved to 5-8 against the Cubs on the season.Albert Pujols walked with two outs in the first inning and Matt Holliday extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single. Then Craig followed with a three-run shot to left on a 3-2 pitch. It was his third homer of the season. A late addition to the lineup, Craig took Nick Stavinoha’s spot in the lineup after Stavinoha was scratched with a jammed right knee. After Brendan Ryan doubled in the second inning, Wainwright helped his own cause with an RBI double down the left-field line.Pujols stole third base in the third inning and scored on Craig’s double-play grounder. Pedro Feliz reached on an infield hit and scored from first on Matt Pagnozzi’s double to give the Cardinals a 6-1 lead.Gorzelanny left the game after loading the bases with one out in the fourth, reliever Justin Berg struck out Holliday, but walked pinch hitter Jon Jay on four straight pitches before retiring the side.Ramirez tagged Wainwright for a long leadoff home run to center in the second inning. Ramirez’s 24th homer of the season was estimated at 424 feet.
NOTES—Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig attended the game…..Holliday has his longest hitting streak of the season…..Marlon Byrd left the game after the third inning. He fouled a pitch off his helmet during his at-bat in the third inning then was replaced after striking out…..Stavinoha pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out…..Ryan Franklin pitched a scoreless ninth.
ANAHEIM—After three straight AL West titles the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won’t be part of this postseason.The Angels were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Friday night, as Alex Rios hit a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning and Paul Konerko homered for the White Sox in a 2-1 victory that preceded the completion of Texas’ 10-3 win at Oakland.The Angels will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.The White Sox, who were eliminated from postseason contention with Tuesday’s loss at Oakland, tied the score 1-all in the fifth when Konerko ended a nine-pitch at-bat with his 38th home run into the lower seats in the left field corner.Konerko is second in the AL behind Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 52.Francisco Rodriguez (1-4) took over in the ninth from starter Joel Pineiro and gave up a one-out walk to Juan Pierre, a single to Omar Vizquel and Rios’ line drive to center field. Matt Thornton (5-4) allowed two hits over two scoreless innings for the victory, retiring his final six batters after giving up singles to Peter Bourjos and Howie Kendrick to open the eighth.Freddy Garcia allowed a run and four hits through six innings, struck out five and walked two in his first start since Sept. 7. Garcia came in 15-3 lifetime against the Angels with a 2.45 ERA.Pineiro allowed a run and four hits over eight innings, striking out two and walking none in his second start off the disabled list. The right-hander got 13 groundball outs through the first five innings and 17 altogether.Kendrick hit a leadoff triple in the fourth inning for the Angels’ first hit and scored on Torii Hunter’s single.Konerko ended an 0-for-18 drought with a second-inning single and was quickly erased on a double-play grounder by Manny Ramirez, who was booed vigorously by the crowd of 41,046 in his return to Southern California. The Sox are 9-12 since acquiring Ramirez on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31.Ramirez is batting .241 for the White Sox with one home run — his only RBI — and 19 strikeouts in 58 at-bats. When the 12-time All-Star joined the Dodgers at the non-roster trading deadline two seasons ago, he batted .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 53 games down the stretch to lead them to an NL West title. The following season, he received a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test.
NOTES—Hunter flied out in the first with a runner at third base, struck out with runners at second and third in the sixth, and fanned again with runners at the corners in the eighth. The four-time All-Star has had two run-scoring hits in a game just once since July 4, and only four times since April 30. … The Angels’ four stolen bases gave them at least 100 in each of the last 10 seasons, something no other team has done.
DETROIT—Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist and the Detroit Red Wings beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 3-2 in an exhibition game Friday night.Jan Mursak and Tomas Holmstrom also scored for Detroit (1-1). Jimmy Howard made eight saves, and Joey MacDonald stopped 10 shots.Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist for Chicago (0-2-0). Corey Crawford made 33 saves.
NOTES—The NHL has suspended Hawks defenseman Nick Boynton for the regular-season opener for making a throat-slashing gesture during a preseason game against Tampa Bay.Boynton was given a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike behavior after the incident in the second period of Wednesday’s game in Winnipeg. The NHL says he made the gesture toward Lightning player Blair Jones.Boynton will miss the Blackhawks’ season opener at Colorado on Oct. 7. The NHL said Friday that he will forfeit $2,688 of his salary, with the money given to a players’ emergency assistance fund.