Cards Lose Heartbreaker to Cubs

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Neifi Perez hit a grand slam in the 10th inning after Chicago blew a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth, and the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-4 on Sunday night to take two of three from the NL Central leaders. David Eckstein's single off Ryan Dempster (3-3) in the ninth made it 4-4 when Hector Luna slid around a tag at the plate, touching it with his hand. Aramis Ramirez's 27th homer in the eighth, a two-run shot off Julian Tavarez, had given the Cubs a 4-3 lead as the St. Louis bullpen failed to hold a one-run lead for Jeff Suppan for the second straight start. Todd Walker started the winning rally with a double off Al Reyes (3-2).

Three of the Cardinals' first five batters took Prior over the right-field wall as Abraham Nunez connected with one out and Jim Edmonds and John Mabry followed with back-to-back two-out shots. Prior allowed only an infield hit in his last five innings. It was the first time the Cardinals hit three homers in an inning since April 9, 2004 at Arizona. It also was the first time in Prior's career that he allowed back-to-back homers, and also the first time he'd surrendered three in an inning. Notes: Entering the game, Prior had given up 11 homers in 88 2-3 innings. ... Lee is 9-for-18 against Suppan. ... Cardinals rookie John Rodriguez struck out as a pinch hitter in the sixth after just missing on a homer earlier in the count, ending his hitting streak at six games. He did not start after spraining his right ankle tripping over an exposed nail in the dugout steps on Sunday.

Paid attendance of 49,762 gave the Cardinals a sold-out series against the Cubs and their 23rd sellout of the year. ... Tavarez also blew the lead for Suppan on Tuesday, surrendering a two-run, eighth-inning double to the Brewers' Bill Hall. ... Dempster blew his second save in 16 attempts.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)