SAN FRANCISCO — Three Cardinals pitchers fell a single short of the cycle.
Adam Wainwright hit a home run his first major league at-bat and pitched three innings of relief to earn 10-4 victory for St. Louis over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, when Barry Bonds took the day off.
Albert Pujols singled twice but stayed at 23 home runs a day after hitting a three-run shot for his fourth home run in five games for the Cardinals.
Slap-hitting outfielder So Taguchi provided the power for St. Louis with a solo home run in the ninth and three RBIs. Yadier Molina hit a tying RBI single in the sixth and drew a bases-loaded walk the following inning.
Wainwright (2-1), who had taken no batting practice since spring training, hit the first pitch he saw out to left in the fifth for a solo home run. On the mound, the right-hander allowed four hits and two runs, struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
“I think that’s just a lucky day,” Wainwright said of the pitchers’ hitting success. “Everything was going our way. I wasn’t thinking anything ... then I thought ‘Oh my goodness, I just hit a home run.”
Jason Marquis, the Cardinals’ winning pitcher Tuesday night, hit a triple and Braden Looper doubled.
“They almost hit for the cycle, the pitchers,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “They surprised everybody.”
Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter was scratched before the game by St. Louis with swelling in the right side of his upper back near the shoulder blade. Right-handed reliever Brad Thompson made a fill-in start for the Cardinals, his first career outing as a starter.
“It’s huge,” manager Tony La Russa said of his pitchers. “Chris missed a start. That’s not good news, but the guys responded.”
Thompson worked only two innings, and Marquis hit a pinch-hit triple in his spot to start the third inning. David Eckstein’s RBI single moments later scored Marquis to tie the game at 2.
“If a position player caught us in the cage it would be an eye wash,” Wainwright said.
Tyler Johnson worked the third before Wainwright took over. Randy Flores and Looper each worked an inning to close it out.
Omar Vizquel had an RBI triple and Mark Sweeney doubled in a run, but the Giants dropped the series after winning their previous two sets by sweeping the defending NL champion Astros last week in Houston and taking two of three from Oakland in an interleague series.
Bonds had the day off after starting 13 of the last 14 games and five straight. His home fans are still waiting to see his next milestone home run No. 715.
“I think he’s going to hit a lot more in the next 20 games,” Alou said. “He’s swinging the bat well and becoming the hitter I expected him to be. He needs at-bats. The homers will happen when he won’t even be trying.”
Bonds will resume his pursuit to pass Babe Ruth and move into sole possession of second place on the career home run list Friday night against the Colorado Rockies. The slugger is expected to play all three games of the weekend series before the Giants leave town for another week, at Florida and New York.