ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense didn't exactly break out on Saturday, but it did enough to snap a season-long four-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Padres in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium.
Recent Cardinals callup Tommy Pham scored the go-ahead run in the eighth after reaching on an Alexi Amarista error, swiping second -- his first Major League steal -- moving to third on a groundout and sliding safely into home on Jhonny Peralta's sacrifice fly. Padres reliever Brandon Maurer took the loss despite not allowing a hit in his inning of work.
A Pham-tastic first: Pham -- ranked by MLB.com as the Cardinals' No. 19 prospect -- laced a leadoff double in the sixth for his first Major League hit. Matt Carpenter followed with a nine-pitch at-bat that he capped with an RBI single to tie the game at 1. It was just the second hit in the Cardinals' last 37 chances with a runner in scoring position.
"Personally, I didn't want to go up there like, 'Oh, I have to get a hit,'" said Pham, who was hitless in his first seven Major League at-bats. "I just wanted to focus on putting together good at-bats. But when the result was there, it was a big breath of fresh air." More >
Extra-base bonanza: When Solarte connected for a home run in the fourth inning off of Martinez, it marked the fifth consecutive game he's had at least one extra-base hit. His triple in the ninth inning Friday set up the game-winning run in a 2-1 Padres victory.
In a pickle: Lefty specialist Randy Choate did his job, retiring the left-handed-hitting Yonder Alonso with runners on the corners and two out in the seventh to close the book on Martinez's day and preserve a tie game. Alonso, who entered the day hitting .372 against lefties this year, went down swinging after being ahead in the count, 2-0.
"That's what Randy does," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The numbers are pretty lopsided with his splits, but Randy has done a great job for us this season in those situations. And, really, Carlos was at his limit. It was time, and fortunately Randy came in and did a great job."
Rare road success: Despaigne isn't the only Padres pitcher in recent memory with dramatic home-road splits. He entered Saturday's game with a career road ERA of 5.47 -- but he was very good against the Cardinals, retiring 12 of the first 13 batters he faced.
"I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to get ahead of hitters, so that way I can miss with my offspeed pitches," said Despaigne. "Today, everything was working." More >
"I'm going to give it to my mom and my stepdad, let them cherish it. I give them my baseball gifts. I want them to take pride in it." -- Pham, on where the ball from his first Major League hit is headed
"He had a great plan. Norris had a great game plan. To me, he was the unsung hero. He called a good game, kept Despi going. Give credit to Despi, I think he's feeding off the way the team is playing." -- Padres interim manager Pat Murphy, on catcher Derek Norris, who was playing with a sprained shoulder
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals unsuccessfully used their challenge in the third inning after first-base umpire Ron Kulpa ruled that Mark Reynolds' foot came off first base as he caught a throw from second baseman Kolten Wong on a double-play attempt. After a review of three minutes, 22 seconds, the ruling umpire found no clear and convincing evidence to change the call, which stood as a forceout for Melvin Upton Jr.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres:Ian Kennedy (4-7, 4.86 ERA) will get the start Sunday at 11:15 a.m. PT in the final game of the four-game series against the Cardinals. He hasn't fared well in the past at Busch Stadium, allowing 16 earned runs in 16 innings across three starts.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will wrap up their final homestand of the season's first half Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Lance Lynn (5-4, 2.74 ERA) will be making his fifth career start against the Padres. He is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA previously.