St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols celebrates after hitting an RBI-single during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols hits an RBI-double during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols strikes out swinging in the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) By Keith Srakocic
CHICAGO (AP) -- Albert Pujols hit his league-leading 42nd home run and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Chicago Cubs 8-7 Sunday, preventing the NL Central from being clinched.
The first-place Cincinnati Reds needed a victory at San Diego and a loss by the Cardinals to win the division.
Pujols hit a three-run homer and Matt Pagnozzi drove in three runs as the Cardinals took an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning. The Cubs' rally fell short, and they finished 35-46 at Wrigley Field this season.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (3-4) pitched 5 1-3 innings and allowed three earned runs. He didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning, then retired only two of his next 10 batters.
Ryan Franklin got five outs for his 26th save in 28 opportunities. He retired Xavier Nady on a popup with runners on first and second in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Jeff Smardzija (2-2) was tagged for eight runs on seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Pujols' homer highlighted a four-run first inning. His drive into the wind landed on Waveland Avenue, and Smardzija walked the next two batters before Pagnozzi hit an RBI single with two outs.
St. Louis scored four more runs in the fifth. After two walks, Smardzija gave up an RBI single to Brendan Ryan and Pagnozzi followed with a two-run double.
Pinch-hitter Brad Snyder had a two-run single in the Cubs fifth.
Kosuke Fukudome had an RBI double in the sixth and Westbrook's outing ended after walking Bobby Scales with one out. Scales later scored on pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir's two-out single.
The Cubs closed to 8-7 in the seventh, helped by center fielder Colby Rasmus' two-base error. Reliever Mitchell Boggs struck out Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo to end the inning.
Notes: A CT scan on Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth was negative and he was to be released from the hospital a day after being hit in the face by a line drive. Hawksworth was hospitalized overnight after being struck by Sam Fuld's shot in the fifth inning of Saturday's game. He received about 20 stitches, but the scan showed no structural damage. ... St. Louis went 34-47 on the road this year.