Ryan Ludwick snapped a ninth-inning tie with a three-run homer, helping the San Diego Padres beat his old team and end an 11-game losing streak in St. Louis with an 8-4 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday.
Will Venable and David Eckstein had three hits and an RBI apiece for the Padres, who snapped a three-game skid overall and began the day a half-game behind San Francisco in the NL West and 1½ games behind Atlanta for the wild card. They haven't won in St. Louis since Aug. 7, 2007.
Ludwick and Matt Stairs hit back-to-back homers off Kyle McClellan (1-4), who hadn't allowed a run in eight straight outings but faltered in his second inning after working a scoreless eighth.
Ludwick is 5 for 11 in the first three games of a homecoming series.
Jeff Suppan allowed a run in five innings for the Cardinals, who fell 6½ games behind the Reds with 15 games to go. They've struggled offensively since trading Ludwick in a three-team deal that brought pitcher Jake Westbrook from Cleveland at the trade deadline, going 18-25.
Chris Young allowed a run on four hits in four innings in his first start since the second game of the season. Out a strained right shoulder, Young was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and threw 69 pitches.
Venable, Miguel Tejada and Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI apiece in a three-run, six-hit seventh against three relievers to put San Diego ahead 4-2. Left fielder Matt Holliday saved a fourth run when he threw out Tejada trying to score on Ludwick's single.
The Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the seventh on singles by Colby Rasmus and Pedro Feliz, the first off Terry Gregerson and the second off Mike Adams (4-1).
Suppan was the stand-in starter for rookie left-hander Jaime Garcia, who has thrown 163 1-3 innings a year after elbow reconstruction and will be throttled down the rest of the way.
Skip Schumaker had two hits and the heart of the Cardinals' order, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Rasmus, combined for seven walks, two hits and an RBI. St. Louis' first two runs scored on wild pitches.
The Padres' infield helped Young with two exceptional plays in the second. First baseman Gonzalez snared Jon Jay's hard-hit grounder down the line and turned it into a forceout and third baseman Chase Headley made a diving grab down the line to rob Pujols of a double.
NOTES: The Padres improved to 24-9 against the NL Central. ... The Cardinals recalled five players from Triple-A Memphis, a day after that team was swept in the PCL playoffs. ... LHP Trever Miller lasted one batter in his first appearance in 12 games, walking Gonzalez to open the sixth and making one attempted pickoff throw before getting removed. ... Pujols drew his major league-leading 35th intentional walk in the fifth. Gonzalez is second in the NL with 28. ... Padres LHP Joe Thatcher has allowed one run in 16 2-3 innings in his last 34 outings. ... The Padres designated RHP Cesar Carillo for assignment for the second time this month to make room for Young. Carillo, who has spent the entire year with Triple-A Portland, was with the Phillies for three days before rejoining the Padres for three days.