CHICAGO (Ticker) --
made sure his bullpen's effort did not go to waste.
Sosa belted a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the 15th inning, giving the
a dramatic 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Before Sosa provided an exclamation point on the contest that last nearly five hours, the Cubs received a huge effort from their bullpen as five relievers combined to allow one hit over eight scoreless innings.
"When you go that many innings, it's a bullpen game," Cubs manager
said. "Our bullpen and their bullpen both did a great job."
started the 15th for the Cubs with a single off
(1-7) and, after
flied out, Sosa drove an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for his 32nd homer of the season.
"I think it was one of the longest games we have played," Sosa said. "Both sides played great. I was 0-for-5 and I didn't give up and I just finally got a pitch to hit."
Sosa'a blast further tightened the National League Central Division race. The Cubs pulled within one game of first-place Houston and one-half game of second-place St. Louis.
"Sammy wasn't supposed to get that kind of pitch to hit," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa
said. "We got beat with a fastball. (Fassero) made a mistake. We paid."
(2-3) gave up one hit in two innings for the win.
"The feeling is nice since we played more innings than normal," Guthrie said. "It was nice to ride Sammy's homer. That was huge."
It did not look like the Cubs would need extra innings before capturing the second game of the five-game series between the teams.
The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against recently acquired
, when pinch hitter
drove a fly ball to deep left field. But
retreated to the warning track and made a leaping catch as he banged into the ivey-laced wall.
"That was a huge catch and should have inspired us," La Russa said. "But we couldn't break through."
In the 12th, the Cardinals tried to break through against
drew a leadoff walk but he was stranded at second when
lined out to first to end the inning.
Guthrie started the 14th and gave up a leadoff double - the Cards' first hit since the seventh inning - to
. But the lefthander settled down to retire the next three batters.
The Cardinals broke through for a run in the second against Cubs starter
drew a leadoff walk and, after
Renteria was intentionally walked and
delivered an run-scoring single into left field.
Edmonds extended the lead to 2-0, when he led off the fourth by sending an 0-1 pitch over the left field wall for his 35th homer.
Zambrano went seven innings, allowing two runs and four hits. The righthander worked around four walks and struck out five.
retired the first 12 batters before running into trouble in the fifth.
led off by hitting a fly ball to left fielder
, who appeared the make the catch. But third base umpire Bill Hohn ruled that Pujols dropped the ball as he was transferring it out of his glove and Ramirez reached second.
"No doubt he caught the ball," Simontacchi said. "It's a bad call. But we are all human. Things happen. But I gave up two runs when I needed to get us out of the inning."
Simontacchi retired the next two batters but
delivered back-to-back RBI doubles, tying the game at 2-2. Zambrano reached on an infield hit and
walked but Womack bounced into a forceout to end the inning.