Taken together, the knee injuries that took out the Pro Bowl running back, Pro Bowl safety and promising tight end before the 2011 season probably had more to do with last year's dismal campaign than any other factor.
Vargas (11-7) allowed just a fourth-inning double during his eight innings, while striking out five and walking three.
Trumaine Johnson provided the final piece of the rookie class when he arrived a bit later than scheduled. A cornerback out of Montana, he slept through his alarm and missed his flight Wednesday morning after being the last rookie to come to terms with the team.
The Cardinals answered the Dodgers' four-run fifth with four runs in the bottom half and Matt Holliday added his 17th homer in the sixth. They're 5½ games back in the NL Central but answered a 1-5 trip to open the second half with a combination of strong starting and offense that scored seven or more runs in four of the wins.
Rafael Furcal singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning and the St. Louis Cardinals dampened the Dodgers debut of Hanley Ramirez, beating Los Angeles 3-2 Wednesday night.
Jered Weaver won his seventh straight start to tie a career-best, Mike Trout and Torii Hunter homered, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 11-6 on Wednesday.
Will Smith (2-3) allowed a run, struck out four and walked four in a 4-1 victory Tuesday night over the club that drafted him in 2007 and traded him to Kansas City in 2010.
The Cardinals purchased the contract of 36-year-old lefty Brian Fuentes from Double-A Springfield in time for Wednesday night's game against the Dodgers.
The Cardinals beat the Angels 8-2, ending Los Angeles' five-game winning streak.
The Summer Olympics, which begin Friday, will feature 5,535 hours of coverage, but even more will be available through online streaming.
Los Angeles rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to beat Kansas City 6-3 on Monday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Kansas City Chiefs players Charles, Berry and Moeaki will attend training camp after injuries kept them from competing last season.
Cardinals lost to the Dodgers 5-3.
After winning only 15 games in the past five seasons, the Rams have a new coach who hopes to instill in his players optimism for the road ahead.
Ryan Doumit became the third Twins player to go deep both right-handed and left-handed in a game.
It's just the Cardinals' second series sweep overall at home, where they're 26-20.
Baseball and softball have agreed to merge into a single international federation in a joint bid in hopes of being reinstated in the Olympics by 2020.
St. Louis tied a 76-year-old major league record with seven doubles in the seventh inning of a 12-0 victory over Chicago on Saturday night.
Lorenzo Cain delivered run-producing singles in the first and fifth innings, and he had an RBI double in the seventh in Kansas City's 7-3 win over Minnesota on Saturday.
Joe Mauer went 3-for-4 and scored the winning run in the 11th inning to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.