CHICAGO – Alfonso Soriano threw up his hands in joy as the ball caromed off second baseman Tyler Greene and into center field. He slapped hands with his teammates as they mobbed him near first base.
While the Cubs celebrated another dramatic victory, the St. Louis Cardinals fumed.
Soriano hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning and the Cubs used a pair of disputed calls to post a 3-2 victory Tuesday night, ending the Cardinals' run of 13 consecutive winning series.
"It's huge, especially against one of the best teams in the National League, and the world champions, to win our first series against them is huge," manager Dale Sveum said. "To do it in that fashion gives the guys in that locker room confidence."
Tony Campana sparked the winning rally with a one-out single off Fernando Salas (0-1). Campana then broke for second and was ruled safe in a close call by second base umpire Bill Welke, who insisted to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny that the speedy outfielder got his hand on the bag before the tag.
Matheny disagreed, and drew his first ejection.
"To sit there and watch our guys get short-ended on great plays and not have something to say about it would be a tragedy," the first-year manager said.
After Starlin Castro struck out, Bryan LaHair was walked intentionally before Soriano hit a full-count pitch off Greene for the winning hit. Campana scored easily to give the Cubs their second consecutive dramatic victory against the Cardinals.
"The last two have been great for the team," Soriano said. "We need that kind of emotion and belief. Everybody is believing. We have a very young, talented team. We have to stay working hard and see what happened."
James Russell (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to get the win.
Chicago led 1-0 before Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer off Carlos Marmol with two out in the eighth inning. LaHair then tied it with a leadoff drive off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth.
"Just before I went up there, Dale told me to see the ball up," LaHair said. "He left the ball up and I just wanted to hit it hard."
The Cubs also beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Monday night on Joe Mather's game-ending, two-run single. They will go for the three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon.
St. Louis won its last seven series in the regular season last year, then stormed through the playoffs to the World Series title. It opened this season with six more series wins before running into the slumping Cubs, who had dropped seven of eight before the Cards came to town.
It was St. Louis' first series loss since it dropped two of three against Cincinnati from Sept. 2-4. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2002 Braves were the last team to put together a 13-series streak.
The Cardinals had just four hits before Holliday drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center for his fourth homer. Rafael Furcal set up the go-ahead drive with a one-out walk against Rafael Dolis, who retired Skip Schumaker before Sveum went to his closer with Holliday coming to the plate.
"It was a slider. Got the barrel to it," Holliday said. "It would have been nice if that would have been the difference-maker, but it didn't turn out to be."
The Cubs nearly wasted a terrific outing by Jeff Samardzija, who struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander yielded just four hits and two walks in his second start against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in 11 days.
Wainwright allowed one run and six hits over six innings in his best start since he had elbow-ligament replacement surgery last February, sidelining him for the 2011 season. The 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out seven and walked one, but remained winless in four starts this year.
"Each time out there have been little things that I've done better and better," he said. "Tonight there were certainly things that I did like I expect to do, like I used to do, and like I'm going to continue to do them. There are still ways that I can get a lot better than I was tonight."
Castro's disputed sacrifice fly gave the Cubs the lead in the first. Right fielder Carlos Beltran made a strong throw and Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina was right there as David DeJesus stuck his left arm out while sliding past home on the dugout side, drawing a safe call from umpire Chris Conroy.
DeJesus clapped his hands and scurried back to the dugout as Molina popped up and began arguing with Conroy. Matheny popped out of the dugout and got between Molina and Conroy before continuing the argument with the umpire. Looking at the TV replays, it was unclear whether DeJesus ever touched home, but Matheny eventually left the field after a short argument.
"It's a shame. That's all," Matheny said. "The first run is a shame. The last one was a shame. Those are my thoughts."
NOTES: Cardinals 3B David Freese was back in the lineup after he was hit on the right hand in the fourth inning of Monday's loss. He stayed in the game but there was some concern since he missed two days this month with an irritated finger on the same hand. ... The Cubs outrighted RHP Rodrigo Lopez to Triple-A Iowa. ... Beltran turned 35 on Tuesday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap