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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chicago Cubs Sweep St. Louis Cardinals - Michael Barrett Homer Keys 8-4 Victory

CHICAGO (AP) -- Michael Barrett couldn't conceal his joy, or his pain and relief.

Barrett hit a grand slam off Jason Isringhausen in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-4 Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep.

That concluded arguably his best weekend on the diamond and one of his worst away from it.

He caught 319-game winner Greg Maddux in Friday's opener, hit a game-tying pinch-hit homer on Saturday, and a go-ahead grand slam on Sunday.

"Wow, I don't know what's going on," Barrett said, a smile stretching across his face.

Off the field, Barrett had problems though.

A tornado sent a tree ripping through the side of his house in his hometown Atlanta, taking out a deck and a living room window. His parents didn't tell him until Saturday night.

"That's just God saying, 'You'd better stay humble; I'll find you," Barrett said, adding no one was in the house.

With St. Louis leading 4-3, Ricardo Rincon walked Todd Walker to open the eighth inning. Isringhausen (0-1) relieved and walked Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez on eight pitches to load the bases for Barrett, who homered for the second straight day.

It was Barrett's second career grand slam, and it made a winner out of reliever Scott Williamson (1-0), who pitched a scoreless inning. The Cubs scored another run on a wild pitch by Josh Hancock.

"I had bad mechanics (against) the first two guys," Isringhausen said. "I thought I could get in on him with my best pitch, get a ground ball and try to get a double play. I didn't get in there far enough."

Fans chanted "Sweep!" after Barrett's shot, and the Cubs did just that, finishing their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals at Wrigley Field since June 2001.

The win was also the 1,100th for Cubs manager Dusty Baker.

Barrett had a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the seventh inning to tie Saturday's game as the Cubs rallied for a 3-2 victory.

Scott Rolen hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and Albert Pujols singled in two in the fifth to give the Cardinals 4-3 lead.

Sidney Ponson allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings in his first start since signing with the Cardinals in the offseason but did not figure in the decision.

His lone mistake was a three-run homer by Jacque Jones -- his first hit as a Cub.

Chicago starter Sean Marshall allowed four runs and four hits in 4 1-3 innings in his major league debut. He left with a 3-2 lead and the bases loaded in the fifth.

Michael Wuertz, making his first appearance this season, relieved and allowed a two-out, two-run single to Pujols that put the Cardinals ahead.

The 23-year-old Marshall, who had never pitched above Double-A, started the game by retiring David Eckstein and Juan Encarnacion on grounders. He then walked Pujols and Rolen hit a 3-2 pitch to left for his second homer.

Marshall retired 10 of the next 11 batters before running into trouble in the fifth.

"He showed me a lot today," Barrett said.

Jones gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the fourth with his homer after two-out singles by Ramirez and Barrett.

Booed after a second-inning grounder that made him 0-for-13 on the season, Jones won the fans over when he lined a 3-2 pitch from Ponson into the shrubs beyond the center-field wall.

"It's just a relief to get that first hit out of the way," he said after going 2-for-4.

Chicago's Ronny Cedeno had four hits, including a double.

Ponson wasn't spectacular, but he was effective after a disastrous ending last season in Baltimore.

He started 5-1, but lost his last seven decisions to finish at 7-11 before going on the disabled list with a strained right calf and getting released on Sept. 1.

And he was headed to a victory -- until the eighth.

"The one thing I like about this team is as great as it was, as funs as it was, there's no real celebrating what happened today," Barrett said. "It means we're focused and moving on."


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