San Francisco Travis Smith and J.D. Drew are making the most of their periodic chances to help the St. Louis Cardinals.
Drew homered and drove in four runs, sending Smith and the NL Central leaders over the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, Thursday with their fourth victory in five games.
The Cardinals have stayed atop their division despite plenty of injuries, including the knee tendinitis that makes Drew's availability a gametime decision every day. He felt good before the game, and he showed it with a run-scoring single and a three-run homer.
"It gets a little better every day," said Drew, who didn't start in two of the Cardinals' first three games at Pacific Bell Park this week. "I'm pretty fresh for the days when I do get to play. Sometimes it's hard to get a rhythm going, but with the problems we've had, I feel like I need to play when I can."
St. Louis, 9-4 since the All-Star break, finished a seven-game road trip with another strong outing from Smith, the rookie who was recalled from the minors after Darryl Kile died last month. Smith (4-1), who wasn't even in St. Louis' plans for this season a few months ago, has won three of his five starts since being brought up.
"I've been pitching out of tough situations all season," Smith said. "I don't really even think about when my next start is coming. I've been in the rotation for a month now, so I'm starting to feel good about it."
Smith held San Francisco's patchwork lineup to seven hits over six innings while striking out six.
After Drew's homer to straightaway center put the Cardinals ahead in the sixth, St. Louis used four relievers to keep the lead. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
"Almost always, when there's been an opportunity, somebody else has stepped up," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
The Cardinals took three of four from the Giants, who are trying to stay atop the wild card race despite injuries to several regulars.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo became the latest casualty when he aggravated a tender hamstring while sliding into second base in the second inning. He was put on the disabled list after the game, leaving two seldom-used reserves and an infielder to finish the game in the Giants' outfield.
D'backs 10, Padres 0
Phoenix John Patterson, in his second big league start, shut out San Diego into the eighth inning as Arizona won its fourth in a row. Matt Williams hit a three-run homer as the Diamondbacks extended their lead in the NL West to a season-high four games over San Francisco and Los Angeles. Quinton McCracken doubled in three runs and Steve Finley singled in two in Arizona's six-run seventh inning.
Marlins 3, Expos 2
Montreal Juan Encarnacion singled through a drawn-in infield to drive in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and lead Florida past Montreal. After the two teams traded runs in the eighth, Preston Wilson singled off T.J. Tucker (4-2) to lead off the ninth and advanced to third on Mike Lowell's double off the left-field wall. Derek Lee was walked intentionally to load the bases and Encarnacion singled to left to give the Marlins their third and final lead of the game.
Vladimir Nunez (5-3) allowed Fernando Tatis' game-tying single in the eighth while getting the last five outs for the win. Luis Castillo hit a run-scoring single with two out in the top half of the eighth to break a 1-all tie.
Phillies 6, Cubs 2
Chicago Tomas Perez hit a bases-loaded triple and then stole home in the eighth inning, rallying Philadelphia past Chicago. The Phillies won their third straight after losing the series opener at Wrigley Field. An error by left fielder Moises Alou helped Philadelphia come back in the eighth.
Fred McGriff hit his 470th career home run for the Cubs.
Carlos Silva (2-0) pitched two innings for the win. Kyle Farnsworth (3-2) took the loss, allowing four runs in one inning of relief.
Astros 8, Pirates 0
Houston Rookie Kirk Saarloos pitched the Astros' first complete game of the season and Jeff Bagwell drove in five runs as Houston beat Pittsburgh. Saarloos (2-2) allowed six hits and no walks as he pitched the team's first shutout since Roy Oswalt did it against Milwaukee Sept. 9, 2001. No Astros starter pitched into the ninth inning this season before Saarloos, who struck out six. Jason Kendall had two hits off him, and pitchers Kris Benson and Ron Villone each singled.