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Willson Contreras hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, handing another victory to Jose Quintana, and the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Sunday night to move into a virtual tie for first in the NL Central.
 
Kyle Schwarber also connected as the Cubs won for the eighth time in nine games since the All-Star break. The World Series champions improved to 51-46, just a few percentage points ahead of Milwaukee after the Brewers (53-48) lost 6-3 at Philadelphia.
 
With one out and Kris Bryant aboard after a leadoff double in the sixth, Contreras drove a 3-1 pitch from Michael Wacha into the bleachers in left-center for his third homer in his last four games and No. 15 on the year.
 
The 25-year-old Contreras also threw out Yadier Molina trying to steal second ahead of Paul DeJong's solo homer in the fourth. He is batting .339 (21 for 62) in July.
 
Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who closed out a 4-6 road trip with their fourth loss in five games. Paul DeJong also went deep.
 
Wacha (7-4) was charged with five runs and six hits in six innings in his first loss since May 30. The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his previous four starts, including a three-hitter in a 5-0 victory against the Mets on Tuesday.
 
Quintana (6-8) struck out seven in six innings in his first home start since he was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the White Sox on July 13.
 
Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards Jr. each got three outs before Wade Davis finished for his 20th save in 20 opportunities, breaking the club's single-season record for most consecutive saves.
 
The Cardinals pulled Matt Carpenter in the second inning with right quad tightness, but the first baseman said he doesn't think it's serious. Carpenter reached on an error in the first and was thrown out at home when he tried to score on Jedd Gyorko's two-out double to left-center.
 
Kyle Hendricks makes his first start since June 4 when the Cubs host the crosstown White Sox on Monday afternoon. Hendricks, who won 16 games last season and led the majors with a 2.13 ERA, was sidelined by pain in the middle finger of his right hand - quite possibly from overuse.
 
Mike Leake pitches Monday for the first time since he acknowledged after his last outing that he is struggling to maintain optimal body strength between starts. The issue traces back to last year, when Leake was sidelined by shingles and lost some weight and strength.
 
Leake is 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA in last 10 starts.
 
Leake (6-8, 3.39 ERA) gets the ball against Colorado in St. Louis' first home game since July 9. RHP Antonio Senzatela (10-3, 4.67 ERA) pitches for the Rockies.
 
>>Royals Beat White Sox
 
Brandon Moss hit a game-ending double off Tyler Clippard that lifted Kansas City over the White Sox 5-4 Sunday, extending Chicago's longest losing streak in four years to nine games.
 
Whit Merrifield, Jorge Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer hit consecutive home runs off Derek Holland in the fourth inning for a 3-0 lead, and Merrifield hit another solo shot in the eighth off Dan Jennings to tie the score at 4.
 
Mike Moustakas singled off Gregory Infante (0-1) leading off the ninth and pinch-runner Lorenzo Cain advanced when Infante bounced a slider to Alcides Escobar for a wild pitch. Infante hit Escobar on the left hand, Clippard relieved in his second appearance since he was acquired from the New York Yankees, and Moss doubled.
 
Kelvin Herrera (3-2) struck out two in a perfect ninth, extending the scoreless streak by the Royals bullpen to 18 innings over five games. Kansas City has won five straight following a skid of seven losses in eight games and went 6-4 on its homestand.
 
Chicago had not lost nine in a row since Aug. 30-Sept. 7, 2013.
 
Holland allowed three runs, four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings, throwing 87 pitches. He is 1-6 in his past 10 starts,
 
Royals starter Travis Wood gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. 
 
Adam Engel hit a three-run double in the fourth and scored on Jose Abreu's double for a 4-3 lead.
 
The White Sox open a four-game series against the Cubs opens Monday at Wrigley Field. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (4-9) is to start for the White Sox and RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-3) for the Cubs.

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