Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena (24) walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the game in the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, July 20, 2012 in St. Louis. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-1.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Kyle Lohse worked seven strong innings and the St. Louis Cardinals' slumbering offense ended Ryan Dempster's 33-inning scoreless streak with a three-run first in a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Matt Holliday added a home run estimated at 469 feet, the longest at 7-year-old Busch Stadium, in the third inning.
Lohse (10-2) won his fourth straight decision over five starts to complement a lineup that topped three runs for the first time in 12 games. The defending World Series champions found an unlikely victim in Dempster (5-4) after totaling 15 runs and going 8 for 51 (.157) with runners scoring position on a 1-5 trip that left them five games back in the NL Central to start the day.
Dempster hadn't allowed a run since May 30 while winning five straight starts and entered with a major league-best 1.86 ERA before running into immediate trouble, giving up four straight singles in a span of six pitches with one out. Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina each had an RBI single and Lance Berkman drove in a run with a groundout.
Dempster allowed four runs in six innings while under heavy scrutiny from several teams looking to make a deal before the trade deadline. The streak was the majors' longest since the Phillies' Cliff Lee had a 34-inning run last year, and it was the Cubs' longest since Ken Holtzman also had a 33-inning streak in 1969.
Seven straight Cardinals were retired before Holliday's one-out clout in the third that soared past Big Mac Land in left field and traveled 4 feet longer than Albert Pujols' drive over the bleachers behind the visitor's bullpen in left against the Rockies' Esmil Rogers last Aug. 14.
According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, Holliday's homer is tied for the fifth-longest in the majors this year.
The Cardinals worked Dempster for 32 pitches in the third, including a nine-pitch walk by David Freese to load the bases, but came up empty when Rafael Furcal broke his bat on a liner to second.
The Cubs lost for the 11th time in their last 15 games in St. Louis.
Manager Mike Matheny juggled the lineup with Skip Schumaker, who entered a .431 career hitter against Dempster, at the top and Furcal dropped to eighth for the first time this season. Schumaker took a called third strike to open the first and was 1 for 4 while Furcal had two hits.
Lohse has won 13 of his last 15 starts dating to last season, according to STATS LLC. He worked seven or more innings for the seventh time in eight starts, allowing a run on six hits with four strikeouts, all but one looking.
The Cubs opened the second with a walk by Bryan LaHair, a single by Steve Clevenger and a sacrifice fly by Darwin Barney. They had only two runners in scoring position against Lohse, and were a collective 2 for 15 with men on.
Tyler Greene is 0 for 13 as a pinch hitter after taking a called third strike from Scott Maine with runners on second and third to end the Cardinals' eighth.
Jason Motte a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances, and first in three chances against the Cubs.