April 20 – Cardinals 2, Cubs 1

The first match of the season on Friday between the traditional rivals was a controversial contest.

The St. Louis Cardinals came out of a four-game losing streak on Friday afternoon by defeating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field by a score of 2-1. Braden Looper (3-1) pitched seven innings and got the win. He has become the Cardinals' most consistent pitcher thus far in the young season, but three wins and a 2.08 ERA do not lie.

Looper gave up the only run of the game in a shaky first inning, allowing three singles (with one fly out between the first two). The last single, off the bat of Cubs' third baseman Aramis Ramirez, brought home second baseman Ryan Theriot. Looper would go on to give up six hits in his seven innings of work, but only the one run.

The Cardinals did not put up much of a realistic threat until the seventh inning, when center fielder Jim Edmonds walked in front of right fielder Preston Wilson. Wilson was up against Cubs' starter Ted Lilly (1-2 after this start), and he hit one to deep left for a two-run home run. The Cards were up, and Looper had done a great job. Ryan Franklin came in to relieve the former closer and Jason Isringhausen picked up his fourth save.

Game Notes:

- The Cardinals-Cubs series always makes for a lot of controversy and fun, as does any rivalry game. Friday's matchup had plenty of it, with several very strange plays. Catcher Henry Blanco of the Cubs bunted, but St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina picked up the ball and appeared to tag out the Cubs' batter. Molina promptly threw to second base, and shortstop David Eckstein (who was covering at second) threw to third baseman Scott Rolen, who tagged out another Cubs' runner. Rolen threw the ball to first, and the umpires ruled it a triple play. Unfortunately, interference was called and two of the runners were put back on base.

- Another bizarre play occurred in the ninth. Cub Ronny Cedeno was called out at second base for the second out. With Cedeno breaking from first, the 3-2 pitch to Jacque Jones was called a ball. But, Molina threw to second anyway and Eckstein tagged Jones when he overslid the bag. Eckstein and Tony La Russa both argued Jones was out. After a conference, the umpires agreed. Lou Piniella did not, however.

- Preston Wilson has been under fire much of the early part of the season for a few bad defensive plays and even more less-than-stellar at-bats, but he came through in the clutch for the Cardinals on Friday. His two-run home run not only put the Cardinals ahead of the rival Cubs and ultimately ended their four-game losing streak. La Russa has to be happy with his ball club for their performance.

- Scott Rolen was back in action for Friday's game, but went 0-for-4. Albert Pujols was 1-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout, while Jim Edmonds, Chris Duncan, and David Eckstein each picked up one hit, as well.

- Duncan committed an error in left field as well as made a highlight play when he made a full extension dive while running full speed toward the left field line.

- More action from Chicago on Saturday, as the Cardinals put Anthony Reyes on the mound again one of last year's Cardinals, Jason Marquis. The interesting matchup begins at 2:55 CDT.

Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at sportswriter5@gmail.com.

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