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Cubs 7, Cardinals 6

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker have managed in the World Series, so they're accustomed to roaring crowds, spirited play and emotional performances.

But for early September, with both teams shooting for the playoffs, a five-game series between La Russa's Cardinals and Baker's Cubs was about as good as it gets in the regular season.

Especially for the Cubs, who won four times.

``I talked to a lot of people and they said this is the best five-game series they've ever seen, especially this late,'' Baker said after Thursday's 7-6 win.

``But it's too early to say if it is a turning point.''

The Cubs, a half-game behind Houston in the NL Central and a half-game ahead of the Cardinals, have 22 games left. Chicago and St. Louis, with 21 games to go, don't meet again in the regular season.

``Every game could have gone either way and it went their way except one,'' La Russa said. ``There's a difference between a play, a pitch or an at-bat and they had it. They had the edge over us.''

In other NL games, it was: Florida 5, Pittsburgh 1; and Philadelphia 6, New York 5.

In an interleague game, Arizona beat Kansas City 6-5 in 10 innings.

The series featured a little bit of everything: a rain delay of more than four hours Monday; a day-night doubleheader that included a 15-inning opener; the ejections of three Cubs players, including Sammy Sosa on Thursday, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild; a shouting match between Baker and La Russa; and a stunning comeback by the Cubs to win Wednesday after trailing 6-0.

Baker and La Russa, whose blowup centered about pitching inside and hitting batters, met for several minutes behind the cage during batting practice Thursday, expressed their views to one another and shook hands.

Tony Womack, who entered in a double switch in the top of the seventh, hit a go-ahead single in the bottom half off Mike DeJean (5-8), who had walked Moises Alou and hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch.

DeJean then got out of a bases-loaded jam by slipping a third strike past Randall Simon called by plate umpire Bill Hohn, the center of numerous complaints all day by the Cubs.

He ejected Sosa as he was walking back to the dugout after Sosa apparently made a comment about a third strike call.

``I was cursing myself and he threw me out of the game,'' Sosa said. ``He heard me when I was cursing myself.''

In the fifth inning, Hohn ejected Rothschild, who was in the dugout. Moments earlier, Hohn called a ball on a close pitch that Cubs starter Shawn Estes apparently thought was a strike.

The umpires were not available for comment after the game.

Sosa was the third Cubs player to be ejected during the heated series.

In the second game Tuesday, pitcher Antonio Alfonseca and Alou were ejected by Justin Klemm after he called Alou's line drive down the left-field line foul. Crew chief Mike Reilly said after the game that Alfonseca made contact with Klemm.

On Thursday, Mark Grudzielanek hit a two-run double before Alou's RBI double finished Brett Tomko and gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead in the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Mike Matheny had an RBI single off Mike Remlinger (6-5) to tie the game in the seventh. Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.

Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds didn't start for a second straight game because of a bruised knee.

Marlins 5, Pirates 1

At Miami, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez emerged from slumps and sparked a four-run seventh inning to help Florida beat Pittsburgh.

Cabrera singled home the go-ahead run, and Gonzalez followed with his 16th home run. Cabrera began the game in a 1-for-33 slump, and Gonzalez was 1-for-25.

Pinch-hitter Ramon Castro, batting for the first time since he was charged with raping a woman in his Pittsburgh hotel room last week, hit his fourth home run in the seventh.

The first of Florida's three homers was by Juan Pierre _ his first in 572 at-bats this season.

Pittsburgh's Matt Stairs hit his 17th homer.

Phillies 6, Mets 5

At Philadelphia, Mike Lieberthal's two-out RBI single in the ninth inning won it for the Phillies.

Philadelphia overcame a blown save by Jose Mesa to win for the sixth time in seven games and remain tied with Florida for the NL wild-card lead.

Prentice Redman, playing his fourth game in the majors, led off the ninth against Mesa with his first career homer to tie it at 5.

Valerio De Los Santos (4-3) won in his first outing since being acquired from Milwaukee.

Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run shot and Jason Michaels had a pinch-hit homer for the Phillies.

Diamondbacks 6, Royals 5, 10 innings

At Kansas City, Mo., Lyle Overbay's pinch-hit RBI single in the 10th inning helped Arizona snap a five-game losing streak.

Ken Harvey's sacrifice fly off Matt Mantei (5-3) tied it at 5 in the ninth.

Randy Johnson allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings for the Diamondbacks, who moved within five games of the NL wild-card lead.
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