St. Louis Earlier this month, Garrett Stephenson was demoted to the bullpen.
Saturday, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa showered Stephenson with compliments after the right-hander dominated the Atlanta Braves for eight innings in a 3-1 victory.
"Garrett is absolutely fearless," La Russa said. "Sometimes I think that fearlessness becomes a little carelessness, but he was out there today, and he was going to give us a chance to win.
"In all fairness, he's done that a lot more than his record shows."
Eduardo Perez had two hits and an RBI as the Cardinals, despite continued offensive woes, ended an eight-game losing streak against the Braves that extended to May 2002. They've totaled 10 runs and 28 hits in the first five games of a six-game homestand, going 2-3.
"It's crunch time right now," Perez said. "We've been here before, and we just have to play."
Albert Pujols had an infield hit in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 23 games, although he was easily thrown out trying to advance on a medium fly ball to right on the next at-bat. Pujols leads the major leagues with a .370 average and is 35-for-90 (.389) during the streak.
Stephenson (6-11) has had two of his strongest starts of the season in the last three outings since emerging from a brief demotion to the bullpen. He allowed a run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings with one strikeout and two walks in his 100th career start. His career record in August improved to 10-1 with a 2.38 earned run average.
"I don't know if I'm fearless," Stephenson said. "I respect everybody, but I don't fear anybody.
"It doesn't matter who's up there, if you make the right pitch, most of the time you're going to get an out."
Steve Kline and Jason Isringhausen each got an out in the eighth. Isringhausen started the ninth by giving up a single and throwing a wild pitch, then struck out the side for his 10th save in 11 chances.
Scott Rolen and Tino Martinez walked off Shane Reynolds (9-6) in the second to set the table for an RBI single by Perez. Perez doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Chris Widger's single to make it 2-0.
D'backs 2, Mets 1
Phoenix -- Steve Finley hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Arizona past New York. Finley pulled a 2-2 pitch from John Franco an estimated 398 feet into the right-field seats, sending the Diamondbacks to their fifth win in seven games. Rod Barajas drove in Arizona's first run with a sacrifice fly in the third, and Stephen Randolph (6-0) allowed one hit in two innings for the victory.
Pirates 10, Rockies 4
Denver -- Reggie Sanders and Brian Giles each hit two-run home runs to help Jeff D'Amico win for the first time in six starts as Pittsburgh beat Colorado. Sanders hit his 22nd homer in the fourth inning and went 2-for-5, and Giles hit his 14th in the Pirates' five-run sixth.
Phillies 8, Giants 6 (10)
San Francisco -- Pat Burrell hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning and a two-run shot in the 10th, giving Philadelphia a victory over San Francisco. Burrell and Jimmy Rollins -- two Bay-area natives -- homered in the 10th off Jim Brower (7-4) as Philadelphia rallied from a late three-run deficit to snap a three-game losing streak.
Dodgers 6, Cubs 1
Los Angeles -- Wilson Alvarez scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings, and Dave Roberts hit his first inside-the-park home run as Los Angeles won its sixth straight. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said before the game he would use All-Star closer Eric Gagne for the fifth straight day -- something he's never done -- if a save situation warranted. But Alvarez (2-1) gave Gagne the night off.
Expos 3, Astros 1
Houston -- Livan Hernandez threw a six-hitter for his fifth complete game of the season as Montreal snapped an eight-game road losing streak. Hernandez (12-7), who won for the sixth time in his last seven decisions, tied Philadelphia's Kevin Millwood and San Francisco's Jason Schmidt for the most complete games in the NL. He threw 126 pitches, struck out nine and walked two in his second complete game in his last three games.
Marlins 7, Brewers 1
Milwaukee -- Mark Redman dominated the Brewers for the third time this season as Florida beat Milwaukee. Redman (10-5) allowed one run on six hits in eight innings.