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Cards bump Cubs from WC spot; Brewers win

CHICAGO (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs wasted no time trading blows in the first game of their crucial four-game series.

Then, the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter delivered a haymaker that put the rival Cubs on the ropes.

Carpenter homered in the 10th inning against Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star closer’s return from the injured list, and St. Louis regrouped after blowing a late lead to beat the Cubs 5-4 Thursday night. The teams will meet six more times in the final 10 days of the regular season.

In the midst of a disappointing season that saw his role diminish, Carpenter emphatically pointed to no one in particular in the visitors’ dugout upon contact.

“I mean, it was a gut punch in that inning before,” Carpenter said of the squandered 4-1 lead. “We had that game locked, then it squeaked away from us. They tied it up. Just the emotional turn to be able to get the lead again then look in there and the excitement just fired up everybody.”

Carpenter homered to deep center field off Kimbrel (0-3), who was activated prior to the game after dealing with right elbow inflammation. Chicago dropped a game behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and four games behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central.

“I’m really disappointed in myself to go out there and give up a home run that,” Kimbrel said. “Season’s not over. We still have a lot of games left.”

Giovanny Gallegos pitched a perfect 10th for his first save in two chances. Andrew Miller (5-5) recorded the final two outs in the ninth for the victory.

The significance of an emotion-charged road victory in the series opener with emerging ace Jack Flaherty on the mound wasn’t lost on Manager Mike Shildt and his team.

“Yeah, a win is a win is a win, but that’s an important win for sure,” Shildt said. “I mean, you start the series off and knock that first one down and look forward to tomorrow.”

Brewers 5, Padres 1

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain has had his share of aches and pains this season.

He managed to do some damage to the San Diego Padres before departing with another ailment.

Cain hit a solo home run to help lift the Brewers past the Padres 5-1 on Thursday before exiting the game with a sore left ankle.

Milwaukee moved within one game of Washington for the top NL wild-card spot.