CHICAGO (AP) -- Reliever-turned-starter Braden Looper allowed 5 hits in 7 innings and Preston Wilson hit a long 2-run homer in the 7th Friday as the St. Louis Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1.
In just his fourth major league start, Looper (3-1) out dueled Ted Lilly (1-2) in the start of a series featuring a marquee managerial match-up between Lou Piniella and Tony La Russa. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.
Isringhausen was helped when pinch-runner Ronny Cedeno was called out at 2nd on a bizarre play for the second out. With Cedeno running, a 3-2 pitch to Jacque Jones was called a ball but Yadier Molina threw to 2nd and shortstop David Eckstein tagged Cedeno when he over slid the bag.
Eckstein and LaRussa both argued Jones should be out, and after conferring, the umpires agreed. Matt Murton then popped out to end the game.
Lilly (1-2) shut the defending World Series champs out on 3 hits for 6 1-3 innings. But after he walked Jim Edmonds with 1 out in the 7th, Wilson followed with his first homer, a line drive that cleared the left field bleachers for a 2-1 lead.
Lilly gave up 4 hits and 2 runs in 7 innings.
The Cubs scored in the first on singles by Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.
It marked Chicago's first run against Looper since 2004. While a reliever with the Cards last season and with the Mets in 2005, Looper had blanked the Cubs for 14 2-3 innings.
There was another bizarre play in the 7th inning.
The Cubs had 2 on and no outs when Henry Blanco popped up a bunt in front of the plate. Molina reached around Blanco to try and make the catch; as he did, the ball hit the ground.
Molina apparently tagged Blanco and threw to 2nd base with Eckstein covering. Eckstein threw to 3rd where Scott Rolen tagged Mark DeRosa. Rolen relayed the ball to first, and the umpires ruled the Cardinals had turned a triple play.
That brought Piniella out of the dugout to argue. After the umpires conferred, Blanco was ruled out for batter's interference, and Chicago's two runners, DeRosa and Jones, were sent back to their bases.
Looper struck out Cesar Izturis and pinch-hitter Daryle Ward to end the inning.