Cardinals' Finley strikes out 12 in loss

CHICAGO (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have gone 81 years
without a four-game sweep in Chicago, and they'll have to wait some

Angel Echevarria homered and Alex Gonzalez singled in the
go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Cubs beat the Cardinals
5-4 Sunday.

Chicago avoided being swept in a four-game series at home by its
longtime rivals for the first time since 1921 -- when Wrigley Field
was called Cubs Park.

"It would have crushed me, seeing I was a Cubs fan as a kid,''
said Joe Girardi, who grew up in Cardinals territory in Peoria,
Ill. "My dad has to take grief in Peoria because of the Cardinals.
So I know my dad was happy.''

Girardi, who drove in a pair of runs, wasn't the only one. The
Cubs had dropped four of their last five games, and the first three
losses to the Cardinals really hurt.

"It was real important to win this ballgame,'' Cubs interim
manager Bruce Kimm said. "The way we struggled the first three
games, you sort of wonder, are we ever going to win another game?''

The Cubs had to be thinking that after the seventh inning, too,
when Eli Marrero homered -- his third in as many games -- to give St.
Louis a 4-3 lead.

But Chuck Finley (5-4) unraveled, giving up a leadoff homer to
Echeverria to tie it and walking Fred McGriff.

"I tried to milk another inning out of Chuck,'' Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa said. "We pushed him too far.''

Rick White relieved, and speedy Corey Patterson ran for McGriff.
Patterson took second on a sacrifice bunt, and Gonzalez followed
with a soft blooper that landed in shallow center for an RBI

"It just went in the right spot,'' Gonzalez said. "It's one of
those things in baseball, you don't do everything right, but it
lands in the right spot.''

Juan Cruz (2-10) pitched a scoreless eighth for his first win
since May 21. Antonio Alfonseca worked the ninth for his 16th save.

"This series, no matter what the standings are, is an important
series just because of the rivalry,'' Gonzalez said. "Nobody wants
to lose four in a row. Winning this last one and finishing on a
high note is good for the team.''

Finley struck out a season-high 12, but he also gave up five
hits and five runs in seven-plus innings.

J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer for the NL Central-leading
Cardinals, who still lead Houston by four games. Drew later left
the game after getting hit in the thigh by a pitch from Cruz, and
is day-to-day with a bruised quadriceps.

The Cubs got to Finley early, scoring two runs on Girardi's
double down the third-base line in the second inning.

Finley settled down from there, though. After walking Echevarria
with one out in the third, he retired his next nine batters,
including five straight on strikeouts.

But he got in trouble again in the sixth. After walking McGriff,
the left-hander gave up a two-out single to Gonzalez, who stole

Roosevelt Brown worked Finley to a full count, and he skipped
ball four in the dirt. Catcher Mike Matheny had to chase it all the
way back to the wall, allowing McGriff to score and tie it at 3.

"I just didn't make quality pitches when I had to,'' Finley

Cubs starter Alan Benes, trying to revive his career after
missing most of the last four seasons recovering from shoulder
surgery, had another strong outing. He gave up seven hits and four
runs -- only one earned -- in seven innings.

"It's all about winning baseball games,'' said Benes, whose
brother, Andy, beat the Cubs on Saturday. "It doesn't matter
whether I personally won the game. The bottom line is the Cubs won
the game today.''

Game notes
Finley's strikeout of McGriff in the first inning gave him
2,584 and moved him past Warren Spahn for 19th on the career list.
Finley is fifth among left-handers. ... Albert Pujols extended his
hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the sixth inning. ...
With 13 home runs this season, Marrero has more than doubled his
previous career high. He hit six last year.