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Duncan's early homer sparks Cardinals' win over Marlins

• Hero: Duncan's 18th homer of the season landed just inside the right field foul pole, giving the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead.

• Back in groove: Braden Looper won for the first time in seven starts. His last win came on May 24 against the Pirates.

• Goat: Byung-Hyun Kim gave up five runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. He walked seven and struck out four.

• Quotable: "I've been working at getting better at-bats the last couple
days. It's do-or-die now. A night like this is really big at this time of year." -- Kennedy

-- ESPN.com news services

Cardinals 5, Marlins 3

MIAMI (AP) -- It was a good return to Florida for Braden Looper.

Chris Duncan and Adam Kennedy homered to back Looper, who won
for the first time in seven starts as the St. Louis Cardinals beat
the Marlins 5-3 on Monday night.

Looper (7-7) pitched 6 1/3 innings, scattering five hits and
allowing two runs. His last win came on May 24, against Pittsburgh.

"It's been a while," Looper said. "It was one of the better
games I've pitched this year. I haven't felt like this in a month.
For the most part, I was able to stay in the bottom of the zone."

Looper was traded to the Marlins by St. Louis in 1999. He was a reliever for most of his career.

Byung-Hyun Kim (4-5) pitched six-plus innings for Florida,
giving up five runs and eight hits. He walked seven and struck out
four.

"I had too much time [between starts]," said Kim, whose last
start was July 5, at San Diego. "I relaxed too much."

Kennedy's solo home run in the sixth, his second of the year,
stretched the Cardinals' lead to 4-2. Kennedy, who hit his first
homer of the season Sunday night against Philadelphia, also had a
single and double in four at-bats Monday.

"I've been working at getting better at-bats the last couple
days," Kennedy said. "It's do-or-die now. A night like this is
really big at this time of year."

St. Louis added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by
Duncan to make it 5-2.

Miguel Cabrera led off the eighth with his 22nd home run, a shot
to right field off Ryan Franklin that made it 5-3. It was Cabrera's
fourth home run in three games.

Jason Isringhausen worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save.

"He [Looper] did a good job but I wasn't sure how much farther
he could go," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It got a
little scary for him in the eighth but he got the decision and so
did we."

St. Louis went ahead 2-0 in the first inning on Duncan's two-run
homer that landed just inside the right field foul pole. It was his
18th of the season.

The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Juan Encarnacion walked, stole his first base of the season and scored
on Gary Bennett's single to left.

The Marlins tied it at 2 in the second. Mike Jacobs led off with
a double and Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch. Jeremy Hermida
then drove in Jacobs with a single that also sent Willingham to
third. Willingham scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Treanor.

Game notes
After the game, the Marlins optioned RHP Wes Obermueller to
Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for RHP Rick Vanden Hurk, who was
slated to start Tuesday. ... Cabrera has homered the last three
times he has led off an inning. ... Cardinals 2B David Eckstein
struck out in the first inning on a pitch that hit him.