(Friday, August 17th) Final Score: Chicago 2, St. Louis 1 Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Jacque Jones hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and Rich Hill twirled seven strong frames, as the Chicago Cubs edged the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1, in the opener of a key four-game division series at Wrigley Field. There is currently a three-team race for NL Central supremacy, involving these two teams and the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago pulled into a virtual tie with the Brewers for first place with the win, while the Cardinals now sit three games off the pace. Milwaukee plays against Cincinnati later tonight. Jones struggled in the early portion of the season, but has hit .360 since the All-Star break. "To his credit, he has continued to work," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. Hill (7-7) yielded just the one run on three hits while striking out seven and walking a pair for the Cubs, who responded to a four-game losing streak by winning their last two. Bob Howry worked a scoreless eighth to preserve the lead, and Ryan Dempster set the Cardinals down in order in the ninth for his 18th save. Ryan Theriot went 2-for-4 with a run scored in a winning effort. Albert Pujols hit his 26th home run of the season for St. Louis, which had won seven of eight heading into this game to vault into the playoff picture. Braden Looper (10-10) was the hard-luck loser, allowing two runs on four hits over six frames. Pujols broke up a scoreless stalemate in the sixth, launching a two-out solo home run into the left-center field seats. Jones, though, countered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to put the Cubs in front. Theriot started things off with a one-out single before Jones stepped in and deposited Loopers offering over the wall in left-center. "Right now my main focus is to do things to help the team win," Jones said. The Cards mounted an attack with two outs in the eighth, as David Eckstein singled and pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel worked a walk. Howry, though, got Pujols to pop out to end the threat. Game Notes Hill set a career-high for wins with his seventh victory...Looper had won three straight decisions coming in...Each team had four hits...Attendance was 41,634.