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Pujols punishes Cubs in 12th

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ASSOCIATED PRESS
St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols blasted his second home run of the game, a walk-off shot in the 12th inning, to defeat the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

ST. LOUIS » Jeff Samardzija is in good company. When Albert Pujols is locked in, hitting your spot is no guarantee.

Pujols said the slider that he hammered for the game-winning home run in the 12th inning of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday was not a bad pitch by any means. No consolation for the right-hander who served it up.

"Sometimes you look back on things and think, ‘Would I do something different?’ " Samardzija said. "I thought I made a pretty good pitch.

"He put the barrel on it and it went," he said. "That’s Albert Pujols."

Cubs manager Mike Quade said he told Samardzija to be careful, and added that next time he might walk Pujols even with the bases empty and two outs. The Cubs could have walked both Pujols and cleanup hitter Lance Berkman to get to reliever Eduardo Sanchez (2-1), batting fifth after double-switches.

"You look at the pitch, it wasn’t a bad pitch," Pujols said. "I don’t try to be a hero. I just want to start something."

Samardzija (3-2) said it was all his fault that Pujols ended it.

"I’m the one pitching, I was the one that gave it up," Samardzija said. "He came out, we talked about it. We weren’t going to live out in the middle of the plate on Pujols. Then again, when a guy like that is hitting, whatever you think is good, probably has to be a little better."

Pujols had his ninth game-ending homer of his career and first since Aug. 16, 2009, against the Padres as the Cardinals prevailed in 95-degree heat.

"They had the pitcher’s spot coming up, that was our salvation," Quade said. "But you figure you can keep him in the ballpark, you take your chances, and we couldn’t."

St. Louis relievers retired 17 in a row to end it, with Sanchez striking out two in two perfect innings. The Cubs have lost eight of 10 and didn’t get a hit after Carlos Pena’s infield single with one out in the seventh.

This was only Pujols’ second game with multiple extra-base hits of the season, and he drove in four runs. Pujols hit a two-run shot off Randy Wells in the fourth and his RBI double chased Wells in a two-run sixth that tied it.

Pena hit a two-run homer in the Cubs’ four-run sixth against Kyle Lohse. Kosuke Fukudome had three hits, two of them doubles, with an RBI.

St. Louis had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth before the Cubs went to Carlos Marmol, who struck out Berkman and got Tony Cruz on a flyout. Pujols, who led the National League with 38, 44 and 34 intentional walks the last three seasons, drew only his fourth this year in the ninth.

Marmol worked around a hit batsman and infield hit in the 11th and has thrown 25 1⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road, a franchise best for Cubs relievers, according information provided by the Cubs from the Elias Sports Bureau.

Kyle Lohse gave up a season-high 11 hits and four runs, all in the sixth to match a season worst, and failed to last at least six innings for the first time in his 12 starts this season. He’s 1-4 with a 6.51 ERA in 11 starts against the Cubs.

Pena’s two-run homer was one of three extra-base hits in the sixth that erased a 2-0 deficit, with Tony Campana and Fukudome also driving in a run apiece.

Pujols’ RBI double cut the deficit to one and chased Wells. Berkman singled on an 0-2 count against Sean Marshall, who had held opponents to 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position, to tie it.

Like Lohse, Wells gave up four runs and lasted 5 2⁄3 innings, but the Cardinals needed only three hits. In two starts since coming off the 15-day disabled list from a forearm injury, Wells has allowed nine runs in 9 2⁄3 innings.

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