St. Louis Maybe Pat Hentgen should pitch on three days' rest more often.
Hentgen allowed two hits in five scoreless innings in 94-degree heat Sunday as the St. Louis Cardinals ended the San Francisco Giants' eight-game winning streak with an 8-7 victory.
"He was wild today," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "He was wild enough where you really couldn't zero in on him. He'd throw three up or three down, and then he'd hit the black."
Hentgen (8-6) worked on three days' rest for the third time in his career, and first since Sept. 24, 1996. He's won all three starts with a 0.89 ERA.
At one time, Hentgen was the weak link in St. Louis' rotation. But in his last three starts he's allowed three earned runs in 17 innings, lowering his ERA from 5.85 to 5.16.
"He was the real hero," manager Tony La Russa said. "I'm sure glad he ended up being the winning pitcher. That would have been a shame for that one to get away."
The NL Central leaders barely avoided a three-game sweep heading into the All-Star break after the Giants scored five runs in the eighth, and moved eight games in front of second-place Cincinnati. The Cardinals dropped their three previous games, losing a game off their lead each time.
The Giants' charge has them in second place in the NL West heading into the break.
"We knew it would be tough to sweep these guys in St. Louis," Baker said. "There isn't a manager who wouldn't take winning eight of nine."
Fernando Tatis hit a two-run homer and Ray Lankford and Craig Paquette also connected for the Cardinals, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Tatis' eighth homer, and second since coming off the disabled list June 30, came off Livan Hernandez (7-7) with one out in the fifth. The previous batter, Jim Edmonds, was hit in the knee by a pitch. Lankford and Paquette added homers in the seventh off Joe Nathan, who'll open the second half for the Giants on Thursday.
"One pitch, a slider up," Hernandez said of Tatis' homer. "I just made one mistake and he hit a home run off it."
Edmonds was the only one of the four big stars on the two teams who started. Mark McGwire sat out the entire series with a sore right knee and will miss the All-Star game, while Barry Bonds missed his eighth start with a thumb injury and Jeff Kent sat due to illness for the Giants.
Bonds was announced as a pinch-hitter in the Giants' five-run eighth, but was pulled for Ellis Burks when the Cardinals brought in left-hander Mike Matthews. Kent had a three-run, pinch-hit double off Dave Veres that hiked his NL-leading RBI total to 85, and Calvin Murray had a run-scoring infield hit to cut the gap to 8-7.
Veres, who entered with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth, finished for his 18th save in 22 chances.
"I made it too close," Veres said. "We should have been out there 8-4."
Hernandez, who won his previous three decisions, lasted six innings. He gave up five runs four earned and eight hits.