Chicago Cubs defeat St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez dispelled speculation he might opt out of his contract by telling the Sun-Times on Monday that he will exercise his $14.6 million player option for 2011 and stay with the Cubs.

Ramirez made a similar assertion in July, but after continuing media questions over the weekend about his opt-out rights -- and his vague responses -- he made his intentions clear Monday.

''Yes,'' he said of his plans to return. ''I'm leaning on i...

ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Samardzija -- remember that guy?

That's right, the guy who used to play football at Notre Dame, who has been fairly forgettable since that career change four years ago.

But in what might have been the most important start of his once-promising pitching career, Samardzija delivered a 5 2/3-inning reminder of why the Cubs paid $10 million to get him to give up football.

It was a 105-pitch, scoreless effort against the fringe-contending Cardinals th...