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Sosa homers in losing cause for Cubs

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A healthy Jim Edmonds is making a big impact on
the St. Louis Cardinals' perfect homestand.

Edmonds homered for the fourth straight game and Jeff Suppan
worked six strong innings, helping the Cardinals beat the Chicago
Cubs 5-2 on Saturday for their eighth consecutive victory.

Edmonds missed five starts in center field at the end of last
month and early July with a groin injury, but the team has clicked
since his return.

"I think those couple of days off helped a lot," Edmonds said.
"I'm just trying to stay in the lineup and do my job."

Ray Lankford, Hector Luna and So Taguchi drove in a run apiece
for the NL Central leaders, who are 8-0 on the homestand with one
game to go before the All-Star break and have won 10 straight at
home overall. The Cardinals are 31-8 against the Cubs at Busch
Stadium since 2000 and have an NL-best 54 victories.

Manager Tony La Russa wants to make sure nobody relaxes.

"We barely won that game," La Russa said. "Especially in the
Central, you cannot have an easy series. We're in the same position
we've been in for a while: Keep pushing, keep the edge, keep
cranking, all that stuff that sounds a little corny but it's
absolutely the mind-set we have to have."

Sammy Sosa was 2-for-4 with a homer and double, but fouled out
against Jason Isringhausen with a runner on in the eighth and the
Cardinals leading 3-2 when catcher Mike Matheny reached around the
screen behind the plate and into the seats to make the grab.

"What amazed me was the fans didn't get in the way," Matheny
said. "That out meant more to them than a foul ball. Fortunately,
there weren't any Cub fans there."

The Cubs have lost five in a row, totaling just five runs during
the slump.

"It's natural to get down," manager Dusty Baker said. "The
key is you can't stay down. The sun is going to come up tomorrow
for most of us."

During the homestand, the Cardinals have outscored their
opponents 45-13. The game drew a standing-room crowd of 50,569, the
largest regular-season attendance since the team removed several
thousand seats and installed a manually operated scoreboard in
1997.

The previous best was Friday night's crowd of 49,675.

Matt Clement (7-8) paid for a slow start, giving up three runs
in the first, and is 0-4 in his last six starts. Clement has
pitched well during that stretch with a 2.15 ERA, but has received
only 10 runs of support.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I'm throwing the ball," Clement
said. "They're beating me by one run or 3-2 or 1-0, and that just
means I've got to figure out a way to be a little bit better."

Suppan (8-5) allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings with
five strikeouts and no walks. In his last three starts, Suppan is
2-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

Five relievers combined on hitless relief the last three
innings. Isringhausen got five outs for his 21st save in 25
chances.

The bullpen has allowed two earned runs in the last 29 innings.

Tony Womack walked to start the bottom of the first and went to
third on Clement's wild pickoff throw. Lankford, making his first
start since June 30, followed with an RBI single.

With two outs, Edmonds hit his 20th homer over the right-field
wall for a 3-0 lead. Edmonds is batting .255 against the Cubs with
19 strikeouts in 47 at-bats, but has six homers and 11 RBI in 15
games.

Sosa doubled to start the second and scored on a one-out double
by Derrek Lee. Sosa hit his 15th homer, and first in a week, with
one out in the sixth.

Luna had an RBI double and Taguchi added a run-scoring single in
the eighth against Glendon Rusch.

Game notes
Cardinals 3B coach Jose Oquendo missed the game to attend
his daughter's wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Bench coach Joe
Pettini coached third Saturday. ... Cubs SS Ramon Martinez sprained
his left ankle when he stepped on 1B Albert Pujols' foot running
out a double play ball to end the second and limped off the field.
He's day to day. ... Lankford, who made his first start since June
30, is 9-for-22 against Clement. ... The Cubs are 3-6 in St. Louis
this season, their ninth consecutive losing season. ... The home
winning streak is the Cardinals' longest since they won 11 straight
in 1986. ... The five-game slump matches the Cubs' worst of the
season. They also lost five in a row from May 25-29. ... Cardinals
pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in 14 of the last 15
games.