Cubs get an invite then spoil party

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs still haven’t shown they can compete for a National League Central title, but they sure know how to crash a party.

The St. Louis Cardinals raised a championship flag Friday, brought back the legends of the organization and basically made a crowd of 46,882 hoarse before the first pitch. They ended up not needing their voices anyway.

Ian Stewart hit a three-run home run, while Bryan LaHair added a grand slam all before the game was 2½ innings old. Jeff Samardzija nearly ran out of gas trying to get the five innings necessary for the victory, but made it and then sat back and watched the bullpen shut things down the rest of the way.

So was it nice to spoil the day for the world champs?

“Of course, we’re here to win,” LaHair said. “They had a good celebration before the game, it’s deserved. But we played well and got a victory.”

Samardzija wasn’t going to take the credit for being the spoiler after a game that started 1-hour and 44-minutes late because of rain.

“I think the rain did that mostly,” Samardzija said. “I didn’t have too much to do with it. They’re a professional team. Ever since I’ve played in the big leagues every time you play the Cardinals they’re ready to play and they have a great approach at the plate. But to come out and get this win was big for us.”